Today's Kindness #254: January 16, 2023
✊🏼Celebrate A Civil Rights Leader✊🏽
On the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King Jr Day honors the American clergyman, activist, and Civil Rights Movement leader. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.(January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968) is best known for his role in advancing civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. King has become a national icon in the history of American progressivism.
A gifted and friendly student, King attended Morehouse College, earning a B.A. in sociology. Combining a passion for racial equality with a rediscovered spirituality, King then attended Crozer Theological Seminary, following in his father's and grandfather's footsteps and earning a Bachelors of Divinity.
Shortly after completing his Ph.D. in theology at Boston University in 1955, a 42-year-old Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The opportunity for the NAACP to bring their civil rights efforts to the forefront was before them, and they chose King to lead the successful city-wide boycott of the Montgomery transit system.
Just over a year later, King and over 60 other ministers and activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Together, they coordinated nonviolent protests and gave the young civil rights movement a voice.
Through the next twelve years, King would be influential in organizing marches, sit-ins, and political rallies for civil rights. For example, during a 1963 March on Washington, D.C. for Jobs and Freedom, King spoke before more than 200,000 regarding the challenges African Americans face. His "I Have a Dream" speech has gone down in many history books as one of the greatest speeches ever given. Brutally honest, with a call to action and a vision of hope, King's speech resonated throughout the nation.
In early 1964, 1,500 men and women met a wall of state troopers during a march outside Selma. There, King led the marchers in prayer and avoided any confrontation with authorities. On July 2, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. That same year, King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his unswerving work in the Civil Rights Movement.
In early 1965, Selma, Alabama, became the center of the Civil Rights movement. Congress introduced new voting rights legislation. It proposed banning literacy tests and mandating federal oversight where tests were administered. Additionally, it gave the U.S. attorney general the duty of challenging the use of poll taxes for state and local elections. Televised violence in February of that year resulted in the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. King's presence and President Johnson's support of the marchers helped bring peace. Throughout the next month, marchers continued between Selma and Montgomery. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in August of that year.
Author, speaker, father, theologian, activist, King died on April 4, 1968, when James Earl Ray assassinated him in Memphis, Tennessee. King arrived in Memphis with other SCLC members supporting a sanitation workers' strike. They stayed at the Lorraine Motel, and Ray's bullet struck King on the balcony. Riots and violence would follow, and President Johnson would call for peace, referring to King as the "apostle of nonviolence."
Learn MLK's Full History and Narrative
Take the time to learn more about MLK in depth. Read his works as well as those of his family to learn more about this remarkable man and the stories as he told them.
Support The Black Community And Racial Justice
Make Martin Luther King Jr. Day more than just a day off. Take time to both understand and support civil rights and the issues facing communities of color. MLK and his contemporaries did a lot for the advancement of civil rights, but there is still much to be done.
Have A Conversation
Creating dialogue and having discussions about racial injustice are important. Through conversation, we educate each other, share experiences, and work to create a brighter future.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that."
~ The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.