At Western Michigan University in the final weeks of 1963, Dr Martin Luther King Jr gave one of the most important speeches of his life. The speech was addressed to the discipline of psychology, and its focus was the term “maladjusted”. This label, apparently, was a precursor to a range of conditions, beginning in mild neurosis and ending in chronic schizophrenia. In other words, according to mainstream Western thought, the human being in society faced a choice between adjustment and psychosis.

But MLK chose not to choose. He informed his audience that there were certain things to which he was proud to be maladjusted, and to which he hoped all people of goodwill would proclaim themselves maladjusted too. “I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination,” he announced. “I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self‐defeating effects of physical violence.”

The great American civil rights activist then called for the establishment of a new organisation on Earth: The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.

The Dialogue Centre for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment at the Vuka Institute pays homage to MLK’s dream. Initiated by renowned human rights and environmental activist Kumi Naidoo, the incoming secretary general of Amnesty International, the centre hosts discussions, talks and seminars aimed at challenging and reframing outdated modes of thinking, organising and acting.