Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
The above words are that of the famous rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. In celebration of MLK day I thought an article to remember his life was in need.
Not only did King start a revolution of African Americans fighting for rights, but he continued the act of peaceful protests. Violence wasn’t his forte, and for that he is forever in my memory.
Born on 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, Martin was originally named Michael, although he soon became Martin (named after his baptist father). In 1944 he attended Morehouse College before undertaking a degree in Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania during 1948. 1951, he graduated and attended Boston University’s School of Theology then was awarded his doctorate in 1955.
1954 he became a pastor and this was the time of Rosa Parks arrest (if you don’t know who this woman is I suggest you get on the internet or pick up a book, now). During this time King became a prominent figure, organising boycotts of buses in Montgomery.
John A. Kirk, Chair of History at the University of Arkansas states “[His leadership] was thrust upon him in many respects,” “In 1955-56 he came to prominence. He didn’t seek out leadership. They needed a leader… King was a neutral choice. He was young and new to town and wasn’t a threat.”
Bayard Rustin showed King a way to commit to non-violent protests, heavily influenced by Ghandi’s actions towards the British in India, and these non-violent actions continued.
After establishing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with activists C.K. Steele, Fred Shuttleworth and T.J. Jemison in 1957, King was seen to lose popularity.
Although, this was regained in 1963 during the Birmingham campaign. Desegregation was heavily opposed with violence by white people and the city was renamed ‘Bomingham’ because of the many attacks. King was imprisoned during this time and wrote his famous ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’
On the 28th of August 1963 occurred the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 200,000 people attended and rested at the Lincoln Memorial where he presented his ‘I have a dream’ speech.
King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 with the Civil Rights Act passed, then a year later The Voting Rights Act followed. Result for King, finally.
However, Kings success was shortened with his assassination on April 4th 1968.
At just the age of 39, a great loss occurred with Robert F. Kennedy assassinated just 2 months later.
King’s success and tragic loss is a memory we all should hold. King paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement and he cannot be forgotten.
We must celebrate and remember this young man who died because of what he believed and fighting for the rights he should have been given as a human.
Although, we cannot forget that the fight continues in America for equality but must remember that the voice of King will be forever in our hearts.