The inspirational speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. ring out every year at this time, as they should. In their urgency — and undeniable beauty — his words embodied and galvanized the civil rights movement. Yet in celebrating his life, it can be easy to forget how radical his vision was and to get too comfortable with what we think he stood for. Our memory of King has become institutionalized with a national holiday that pushes us toward a comfort zone of feel-good idealism, especially in the age of President Obama. It is worth remembering that during King’s lifetime, few saw his greatness, and even allies thought he overstepped his bounds at times. They feared what he might unleash. The NAACP, long the dominant organization in civil rights, looked warily upon King, his tactics and his "ambitious lieutenants," as one report at the time put it. There was sniping on small matters, too. One 1962 profile quoted an unnamed Southern black leader who said King was "woefully inadequate in organizational ability" and had taken on more than he could handle. King’s concerns went beyond racial discrimination. He opposed the Vietnam War as early as 1965, and later called for a boycott of the war. He urged those called to military service to claim conscientious objector status. Other black leaders said his anti-war stance jeopardized the goal of racial equality, raised doubts about King’s loyalty to the United States, and revived fears that communists had infiltrated the civil rights movement. A 1967 survey showed that most blacks either believed King was wrong on the war, or were reserving judgment. White journalists who embraced his work in the South were not eager to see him tackle urban issues in the North; they believed he did not understand big-city political machines and his message of nonviolence would have no resonance among militant blacks in the cities. But three months before the Newark riots, King gave warning that Newark and other cities were "powder kegs." News coverage of the riots, in The Star-Ledger and elsewhere, reveals that it was the media, not King, that was out of touch with cities and their black communities. King also supported labor unions. His assassination in Memphis came a day after he rallied support for the city’s striking sanitation workers. Supporting unions was perhaps not so controversial in 1968, when they were generally stronger and more significant in private and political life than they are today. Still, it is notable that he warned blacks against adopting "middle class" disdain for unionism. By 1967, King could see the rise of more militant black organizations and leaders, and wrote about the need for "responsible" militancy. He constantly addressed the great chasm between poor and rich in a wealthy nation, not just the persistence of racism. At the time of his death, he was planning the Poor People’s Campaign to draw attention to poverty in the United States. The quotations and excerpts below — less familiar today than the "I have a dream" speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963 — illustrate these other dimensions of the minister’s activism. King’s lyrical language should not obscure the difficult issues he tackled, and that remain unresolved more than 40 years after his death.