Cultura y conciencia

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Historia, NewsNelson SantanaComment

April 4, 2018

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was assassinated 50 years ago on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. King, an African American Baptist minister, often receives credit for being one of the leaders of the civil rights movement, particularly because his tactics of non-violence gave the movement a new life. ESENDOM remembers Dr. King’s legacy, which forever will be intertwined with the civil rights movement. Lost in the narrative are the names of countless women, men, teenagers, boys, and girls who participated in this crucial movement, which according to some has yet to cease, given the continued discrimination, racism, and related issues in today’s society. Like many of these individuals, King was a law-breaking protestor who challenged society’s norms for everyone to enjoy equality.

In an interview with Jeanne Theoharis, professor of political science at the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York (CUNY) and author of A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History, Vox remembers King’s legacy and reveals a different person from the standard narrative told by the media and historians alike. Some takeaways from the article include President Ronald Reagan’s opposition to Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday, King’s unpopularity among White conservative Americans, and the myth of the “national fable.” According to Theoharis, the national fable consists of four ideas:

  • Focusing the civil rights movement on individuals rather than on movements
  • The myth that individuals such as King highlighted injustice and eradicated the said injustice, which is not true
  • The third idea is putting the notion of racism as a thing of the past
  • Lastly, the final point is that the civil rights movement demonstrates the “power of American democracy,” which indeed is a manifestation of American exceptionalism

King was a writer, thinker, minister, and activist who left behind an important legacy manifested in both thought and action. The following quotes embody part of his trajectory that provides insight into the movement he led and the society he lived in:

“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

Letter from Birmingham Jail,” 1963

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final say in reality. Right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. ”

Martin Luther King’s Acceptance Speech, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1964

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

—“Beyond Vietnam,” New York, NY, 1967

“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied!’ ... We are not satisfied, and will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

“When we allow freedom to ring—when we let it ring from every city and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, We are free at last.”

“I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

—“I Have a Dream Speech…” Washington, D.C., 1963