Despite being dead longer than he was ever alive, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remains an inspirational figure. He is a well-known social activist that led peaceful protests during the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King was a Baptist minister who fought for African Americans’ equal rights and led the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was pivotal for ending legal segregation. His charisma and intelligence made him the most visible, memorable, and persuasive civil rights leader.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged peaceful protests, such as sit-ins and marches, he was unjustly jailed, and his home bombed, but Dr. King did not let the violence stop him. His “I Have a Dream Speech” on the Lincoln Memorial steps in Washington, D.C., and peaceful protests elicited political and social support leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Since this time, there has been some positive change in African Americans’ lives, but challenges still exist.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. provided a blueprint for fighting for equality, social justice, and our beliefs, both peacefully and effectively. There are various documented quotes related to Dr. King’s belief in the separation of violence and protest. He despised violence and shared his views publicly by stating violence “is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy,” and “an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind.”
Dr. King’s quotes’ significance recently came to fruition on January 6th at the United States Capitol. All citizens reserve the right to protest peacefully and lawfully. But what we witnessed, along with the rest of the world, was an insurrection. This unlawful act resulted in death, destruction, and the disruption of American democracy in action.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy proves that his blueprints work. Individuals who wish to voice their views in a hateful manner or unlawfully will not achieve their objective nor be remembered. But will only stifle their point and bring about intended/unintended negative consequences.
I suggest that as a society, we utilize Martin Luther King Day not only as a day of remembrance but a day to educate ourselves by studying Dr. King’s blueprint. As a country, we will never truly achieve the American Dream for all without peace and equality.
Dr. Marvin Whitfield