King's family also rejected cruelty to animals
Jan. 15 marks the birthday of Martin Luther King. Democratic presidential candidates are using the occasion to debate his role in this country's landmark civil rights legislation. I find it more interesting to ponder whether his ideals extended beyond African-Americans to all victims of oppression and injustice, including animals.

Dr. King's wife, Coretta, and son, Dexter, became vegans, rejecting all products of animal suffering, including meat, dairy, eggs, leather, and fur. Their opposition to violence extended to the violence perpetrated against billions of innocent, sentient animals in America's factory farms and slaughterhouses. Their passion for justice extended to the most oppressed living beings on the planet - animals bred, abused, and killed for food.

In his letter from Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King cautioned that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." This message truly resonated with Coretta and Dexter Scott King. I hope that it will do likewise with Dr. King's many other admirers.

Bart Challen Barstow

Dealing with donated organ shortage
Regarding "People should be able to sell their own kidneys" (John Stossel, Jan. 16):

Allowing people to sell organs would save thousands of lives every year. Unfortunately, there is no reason to think Congress will legalize this in the foreseeable future.

Fortunately, there is an already-legal way to put a big dent in the organ shortage - allocate donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. The United Network for Organ Sharing, which manages the national organ allocation system, has the power to make this simple policy change. No legislative approval is required.

Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to register as organ donors. It will also make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs.

Americans who want to donate their organs to other registered organ donors don't have to wait for UNOS to act. They can join LifeSharers, a non-profit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free at

David J. Undis Executive Director
Nashville, Tenn.