Archive for January, 2008

Keep The Dream!

January 30, 2008

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Martin Luther King Jr. was from Sweet Auburn in Atlanta, Georgia where his father was a popular pastor known as “Daddy King”. Martin was known as M.L., and though he was born in a pleasant neighborhood he experienced discrimination, bigotry, and racial stereotypes. There were actual laws during his early years that made African-Americans a second-class citizen. At age six, his white friend’s dad disallowed him from further playing with M.L.

At fourteen he won a oratorical contest in Dublin, Georgia. On the ride back to Atlanta, he and his teacher had to move to the back of the bus when a white passenger boarded it. After high school he had a job working on a farm in Connecticut. On the train ride home he could ride wherever he pleased until they entered the nation’s capital!

His focus in college initially was on politics; he was actually embarrassed about the antics of his religion. However, he did find some ministers who were also learned men. He studied Mahatma Ghandi, the great liberator of India, while attending seminary. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in 1955 at Montgomery, Alabama, the then 26-year-old minister, called Dr. King, led a boycott! Although his house was bombed and his followers were persecuted, this protest was non-violent. The next year the protest was called off because of the victory scored in the Supreme Court.

For the next decade the Civil Rights Movement flourished despite the disagreements on both sides, which threatened to explode into an apocalyptic race war. This caused Dr. King to speak out against the white-on-black, black-on-white, and black-on-black violence. He was able to lead a peaceful march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery (the state capital). People from all over the country joined in this demonstration of courage, conviction, and character. A year earlier, in 1964, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway where the Norwegian Committee noticed his work as an advocate for peace.

On March 28, 1968 he was scheduled to march at about 10:00 am from the Clayborn Temple in Memphis Tennessee. When he arrived he noticed that some of the younger people were visibly angry. He, however, moved to the head of the march, and they proceeded toward city hall. After about 10 or 15 minutes when they arrived near Main and Beale street, Dr. King realized that there was violence in the rear of this march of approximately 1,300.

The National Guard was called in and by evening the police arrested 280 people in which 60 were injured, and a 16-year-old boy was shot dead. This turn of events left Dr. King bewildered; later evidence revealed his marches were to be sabotaged (including a planned Poor People’s march on Washington which transpired on May 12). On April 3rd he checked into the Lorraine Motel in Memphis while his aides, and Ralph Abernathy, went to the Mason Temple to address about 2,000 supporters of the Sanitation Strike. When it became apparent that the people wanted to see Dr. King, Rev. Abernathy called him at the Motel. Dr King came over, and in an excerpt of his last public speech he stated,

I don’t know what will happen now. We got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop. I don’t mind, cause I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land. So I’m happy tonight, I’m not worried about anything, I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

On the following evening, April 4th, he was assassinated.

MLK Boulevard: The Concrete Dream” is a documentary of differing people views by Marco Williams, who visited many cities having a street named after Martin Luther King (Chicago being the first). He details the situation in Eugene, Oregon where officials first voted 6-2 against renaming Centennial Boulevard (a major street) to M.L.K. Jr. Boulevard. However, two days later they changed to a 5-3 vote in favor of it.

A Marting Luther King Jr. Memorial between the Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials in Washington is being planned.