MLK The Man
It is a true testament to the importance of what Dr King stood for in that we honor his achievements each year. His ideals have stood the test of time because close to 50 years after his death we are still having the conversations that he started. None of what he did between 1957 and 1968 came easy, and he made many personal sacrifices to bring his message of equality through peaceful protest.
He wrote five books as well as numerous articles including his inspiring “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” which was hailed at the time as a manifesto of the Negro revolution. In 1963 he directed the peaceful march on Washington D.C. of over 250,000 people where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. He met with President John F Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson. Dr King was also awarded five honorary degrees and was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963.
At the age of 35 Dr King was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize, turning over the prize money of $54,123 to civil rights organizations. He became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks and the civil rights movement but also a world figure.
On April 4th 1968 Dr King was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis Tennessee. He was to lead a protest march supporting the striking garbage workers of that city. He was also said to have been planning a national occupation of Washington D.C. to be called the Poor People’s Campaign. His assassination was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Dr King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.
The Civil Rights Movement
Social Equality and Justice for Black Americans
Dr King utilized the leadership skills gained from his religious and academic training to create a distinctive protest strategy that involved the mobilization of black churches while appealing to white supporters.
1963 Birmingham Bus Boycott and Protests – During the protests the Birmingham Police Department used high-pressure water jets and police dogs against protesters, including children. Footage of the police response was broadcast on national television news and dominated the nation’s attention, shocking many white Americans and consolidating black Americans behind the movement.
King was arrested and jailed in Birmingham and from his cell he composed the now famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” which calls upon the movement to pursue legal avenues for social change. King writes that the crisis of racism is too urgent and the current system too entrenched. “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” He points out that the Boston Tea Party, a celebrated act of rebellion in the American colonies, was illegal civil disobedience and also pointed out that “everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal”.
I Have a Dream
1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
In 1968 during the now famous civil rights “March on Washington” King delivered a 17-minute speech. His now famous passage was a departure from his written text possibly inspired when a supporter shouted behind him, “Tell them about the dream!”—King said;
Dr King and the Vietnam War
By 1967 King also opposed the Vietnam War because he believed it took money and resources that could have been spent on social programs at home. He said at the time, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”.
He stated that North Vietnam “did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had arrived in the tens of thousands” and accused the U.S. of having killed a million Vietnamese, “mostly children”.
He stated after President Johnson’s January 1968 State of the Union speech: “We need to make clear in this political year, to congressmen on both sides of the aisle and to the president of the United States, that we will no longer tolerate, we will no longer vote for men who continue to see the killings of Vietnamese and Americans as the best way of advancing the goals of freedom and self-determination in Southeast Asia.
King’s opposition to the Vietnam war cost him significant support among his white allies, including President Johnson, Billy Graham, union leaders and powerful publishers.
Dr Martin Luther King’s Legacy
MLK Day in Maui
Mahalo for visiting and may hope and peace be enjoyed by you and your family on this wonderful holiday honoring a remarkable man…Aloha Nui Loa!