Posts Tagged ‘Martin Luther King Jr.’

“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

“The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.”

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now…”

 – Martin Luther King, Jr. –

I Had A Dream

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was a Nobel Laureate Baptist minister and African American civil rights activist. He organized and led marches for the right to vote, desegregation, fair hiring, and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into United States law with the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. He is perhaps most famous for his “I Have A Dream” speech, given in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He is regarded as one of the greatest leaders and heroes in America’s history, and in the modern history of nonviolence.

Biography

Martin Luther King Jr. graduated from Morehouse College with a B.A degree in 1948 and from Crozer Theological Seminary with a B.D. in 1951. He received his Ph.D from Boston University in 1955.

In 1954, Martin Luther became the pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He was a leader of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, which began when Rosa Parks refused to cede her seat to a white person. Dr. Martin Luther was arrested during this campaign, which ended with a United States Supreme Court decision outlawing segregation on intrastate buses.

Following the campaign, Martin Luther was instrumental in the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, a group created to organise Civil Rights activism. He continued to dominate the organisation to his death, a position criticised by the more radical and democratic Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The SCLC derived its membership principally from black communities associated with Baptist churches. Martin Luther was an adherent of the philosophies of nonviolent civil disobedience used successfully in India by Mohandas Gandhi, and he applied this philosophy to the protests organised by the SCLC. Martin Luther correctly identified that organised, non-violent protest against the racist system of Southern separation known as Jim Crow, when violently attacked by racist authorities and covered extensively by the media, would create a wave of pro-Civil Rights public opinion, and this was the key relationship which brought Civil Rights to the forefront of American politics in the early 1960s. Martin Luther and the SCLC applied the principles of nonviolent protest with astonishing success by choosing the method of protest, and the places in which protests were carried out, in order to provoke the harshest and most shocking Martin Luther retaliation from racist authorities. Martin Luther and the SCLC were instrumental in the unsuccessful protest movement in Albany in 1961-2, where splits within the black community and the canny, low-key response by local government defeated the movement, in the Birmingham protests in the summer of 1963, and in the protest in St. Augustine, Florida in 1964. Martin Luther and SCLC joined SNCC in the city of Selma, Alabama in December 1964; SNCC had already been there worMartin Luther on voter registration for a number of months.

Martin Luther and SCLC, in partial collaboration with SNCC, then attempted to organise a march which was intended to go from Selma to the state capital Montgomery starting on March 25, 1965. The first attempt to march, on March 7, was aborted due to mob and police violence against the demonstrators. The day has since become known as Bloody Sunday. Bloody Sunday was a major turning point in the effort to gain public support for the Civil Rights movement, the clearest demonstration so far of the dramatic potential of King’s techniques of nonviolence. King, however, was not present; after meeting with President Lyndon Johnson, he had attempted to delay the march until March 8, and the march was carried out against his wishes and without his presence by local civil rights workers. The footage of the police brutality against the protestors was broadcast extensively across the nation, and aroused a national sense of public outrage.

The second attempt at the march, on March 9, was ended when Martin Luther stopped the march at the Pettus bridge on the outskirts of Selma, an action which he seems to have negotiated with city leaders beforehand. This unexpected action aroused the surprise and anger of many within the local movement. The march finally went ahead fully on March 25, with the agreement and support of President Johnson, and it was during this march that Stokely Carmichael coined the phrase “Black Power”.

Martin Luther was instrumental in the organisation of the March on Washington in 1963. This role was another which courted controversy, as Martin Luther was one of the key figures who helped President John F. Kennedy change the intent of the march. Conceived as a further part of the Civil Rights protest, it became more of a celebration of the achievements of the movement – and the government – so far, a development which angered activists who were more radical than King.

Martin Luther wrote and spoke frequently, drawing on his long experience as a preacher. His “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, written in 1963, is a passionate statement of his crusade for justice.

On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to him for leading non-violent resistance to end racial prejudice in the United States. Starting in 1965, Martin Luther began to express doubts about the United States’ role in the Vietnam War. In February and again in April of 1967, Martin Luther spoke out strongly against the US’s role in the war. In 1968, Martin Luther and the SCLC organized the “Poor People’s Campaign” to address issues of economic justice. The campaign culminated in a march on Washington, D.C. demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the United States.

Along the way, Martin Luther also had an impact on popular entertainment. He met Nichelle Nichols who mentioned that she was going to leave the cast of the television series, Star Trek, since she felt was being mistreated by the studio. Martin Luther personally persuaded her to remain with the series for the sake of being an excellent role model for African Americans on television.

Martin Luther was hated by many white southern segregationists. Martin Luther was assassinated before the march on April 4, 1968, in a Memphis, Tennessee hotel room, while preparing to lead a local march in support of the heavily black Memphis sanitation workers’ union. James Earl Ray confessed to the shooting and was convicted, though he later recanted his confession. Coretta Scott King, King’s widow and also a civil rights leader, along with the rest of King’s family won a wrongful death civil trial against Loyd Jowers, who claimed to have received $100,000 to arrange King’s assassination.

In 1986, a U.S. national holiday was established in honor of Martin Luther Martin Luther Jr., which is called Martin Luther Martin Luther Day. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, around the time of King’s birthday. On January 18, 1993, for the first time, Martin Luther Martin Luther Day was officially observed in all 50 United States states.

Source:  This Martin Luther King, Jr Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 – 2009 Chuck Ayoub

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The loves of my life

I have with no strife

Would they have been

If it wasn’t for him

Everything I hold dear

We have with little fear

Today is a different time

How we live is not a crime

With thankfulness in my heart

In honor of him I impart

I have what is a dream

From him it does seem

We live now with less fear

Especially for those I hold very dear

Times have now changed

My family need not be estranged

With thanks to him for his one dream

My life is good it truly does seem

 

My husband, myself and my son spent Monday together to honor Martin Luther King Jr.  I remember when King was alive.  I remember the spirit of the people who stood behind him.  I remember the leaders of the world who acknowledged him.  I remember the day he was murdered.

Yesterday, we commemorated what King did in his life and in his death for us.  It is true that we feel his hard work even today.  During the time of King, my husband was in Africa as a young man amidst the Biafran War.  I,on the other hand, lived on a midwestern dairy farm.  And of course my son was just a thought.  Two people from two parts of the world with two entirely different backgrounds in life came together, in part, because of King.

Because of Martin Luther King Jr. I was able to meet my husband in college.  Prior to King I am not so sure we would have been at the same school.  Because of King, we dared to date. It wasn’t always easy, and still isn’t easy being together today.  Each day of our lives remain on guard. But this cautiousness will never keep us from being together.  We have grown strong with each other.  We have embraced the faith of King, and stand up to each adversity we meet. 

Because of King, we married.  [I admit this is a slight digression from my original thoughts, but what the heck, keep reading.]  If our marriage had occurred 13 or more years earlier,  it would have been a felony for us to marry due to the anti-miscegenation state laws. The term miscegenation appeared in 1863 during the American Civil War.  It was a word invented by journalist to discredit the Abolitionist movement. They were trying to stir up debate over the prospect of white-black intermarriage after the abolition of slavery.  Anti-miscegenation amendments were proposed in United States Congress in 1871, 1912–1913 and 1928, but were never enacted. From the 19th century into the 1950s, most US states enforced anti-miscegenation laws. From 1913 to 1948, 30 out of the 48 states did so. Finally in 1967, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Loving v. Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws are unconstitutional. With this ruling, these laws were no longer in effect in the remaining 16 states that at the time still enforced them.

Even thirty years ago when we were married, some people were happy for us, and some were not.  It is amazing how ignorance and its ugly breath spews from those who once called me family.  I will be honest with you.  Some of them are not welcome on my doorstep even today.  I found out in life that ignorance  is just an excuse that people hide behind.  I have heard people say, “They don’t know any better.”  I say, it is a lie. With our educational system, and the media,there is no way they don’t know better.  There was a day when my uncle was telling a story in front of me and used the word “nigger.”  My uncle knows right from wrong, and he knew that word was inappropriate when he said it.  I decided I really didn’t need these kind of people in my life.  [Sorry about the digression.  Some things I can’t let go.]

 Because of King, we have a child who is a precious young man.  Because of King, I have been with my husband for almost 31 years.  He is my love, my joy, my happiness and my best friend. 

Even today we run into issues.  This last summer we had a situation arise with the children that live on our cul-de-sac.  My son came to the house and was very upset.  I asked him what was wrong. I casually reacted because it was quite common for the local girls to gang up on him – little bullies.  [One of them I swear is the spawn of Satan.  Thankfully they have moved.]  Anyway, my son then tells me that one of the girls called him a nigger, and he explained that she tried to disguise the word by calling him a “migger.”  This  was one thing I could not tolerate, especially in my own neighborhood. 

 I wasn’t shocked.  It was no surprise this came out of that 6 year old’s mouth.  At the time the girl, her sisters, a brother and their mother were living with their grandma.  The grandma was in the process of handing over custody of the children to their mother.  [I think you may be getting the picture here.] Over the years I had developed a pretty good relationship with the grandma.  Once in a while we would share a beer and watched fireworks together on the 4th of July.

I rang their bell and the grandma came to the door.  I told her what happened.  I said to her, there are a lot of things I will put up with in life, but this one is not one of them.  She said to me that she wouldn’t put up with it either.  Immediately she went across the street to a neighbor’s house calling the little girl’s name.  With her head hung low the little girl trudged past me and onto the grandmother’s steps.  The grandma then called out her daughter’s name and asked her to come outside.  When the daughter didn’t come, the grandma stepped in the house and talked with the daughter. I could hear the daughter say, “What do you want me to do about it?” The grandmother told her to deal with it.  The daughter came out and told the girl that she was grounded.  The grandma interrupted and said, “Aren’t you going to have her apologize?”  The little girl turned to me and said she was sorry.  I told her that I appreciated that she said this, but she needed to apologize to my son this. It is him that your words hurt.  So I walked with her back to my house where my son was still upset.  She apologized to him, and I walked her back to the grandmother’s house.  I thanked the grandmother and told her I appreciated how she handled it.  It was obvious not only did the little girl learn a lesson, but so did her mother.  I suspect in this case the acorn did not fall far from the tree.

So today was a day of celebration.  My husband, my son and I just wanted to be together for this day.  No outside appointments.  No phone calls.  We spent the time being together as a family.  To celebrate this day, we cooked foods from Africa.  We had okra soup with fufu, and akara which was one of my favorites when I visited Africa.  We listened to music from Ghana, Nigeria and Zaire.  And at the end of the day we listen to Martin Luther King Jr’s speech, I Had A Dream.  It truly was a good day for us.

I Had A Dream