Updated: Jan 15
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for social justice policy, integration, black nationalism, the ethics of love, hope and peace, and more through non-violence. A Baptist minister and a civil rights activist, King was one of the pivotal black leaders of the civil rights movement in the United States, leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956) As the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he helped initiate and organize the March on Washington, DC in 1963, where he delivered his most insightful and motivating speech – “I Have A Dream”. His speech helped raise public consciousness about inequity and injustice in the country and the civil rights movement o end racial segregation, racial discrimination, and racism.
Dr. King, who espoused non-violence, love, and compassion throughout his life, was violently assassinated on April,4, 1968 in Memphis Tennessee. King was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to free black people from bondage in 1964. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter posthumously and again in 2004 he was awarded the Congressional Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1986 as a national holiday in the United States.
King was deeply rooted in his Christian faith which helped guide his non-violent civil rights movement. He firmly believed that non-violence is a powerful weapon and a sword that heals. His words are eloquent, insightful, inspiring, challenging and tragically relevant today. His arguments are worth engaging with in order to develop critical thing about racial inequity and social injustice issues in the United States. One way to remember and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. is to immerse in his copious writings and compilation of his speeches. One such resource is “A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. (1986)”. In “A Testament of Hope”, King tells us “When I speak of integration, I don’t mean a romantic mixing of colors, I mean a real sharing of power and responsibility.” He informed us that anyone who cares about love should also care about power distribution and that “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice”. In the words of another Icon, Pope Benedict XVI, “I invite you to dare to love. Do not desire anything less for your life than a love that is strong and beautiful and that is capable of making the whole of your existence a joyful undertaking…”
~Bernadine Ahonkhai, ED. D
Founder/President & CEO, Coalition4Justice