January 16, 2017 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (I refuse to just reduce it to MLK day). Someone said to me, “You should tell your boss to give you the day off because you’re black.” Martin Luther King Day is not a “black” holiday nor is it a day just to take off from work. This is a day for people of every race and color and it is a day to remember, recognize and acknowledge Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and all that He did for civil rights.
Dr. King was a Baptist minister as well as a Civil Rights activist. Not only was he a Civil Rights activist, but he was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement who was best known for using non-violent Civil Rights protests, which were based on his religious believes. Dr. King began his doctoral studies in systematic theology in 1951 at Boston University’s School of Theology. During his time at Boston University, Dr. King refined his ability to preach the word of God with conviction, which expanded his preaching activities to various churches in Boston, including Ebenezer Baptist Church where he helped his father whenever he was out of school breaks. In 1954, Dr. King agreed to become the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. In December of 1955, black leaders in Montgomery formed the Montgomery Improvement Association to protest the arrest of NAACP official, Rosa Parks, for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man and they chose Martin Luther King Jr. to be the leader of this new organization. He led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott movement. King faced much opposition, but he continued to move forward fighting for civil rights depending on God as a constant source of support. In his book, Strength to Love, Dr. King wrote about abandoning the idea of God as a
“theological and philosophically satisfying metaphysical category” and how he viewed God as “a living reality that has been validated in the experiences of everyday life.”
With the inspiration of other pacifists, including Gandhi, along with his Christian principles, King continued to expand the non-violent Civil Rights movement throughout the South.
Reverend, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a major force for the Civil Rights movement. He made amazing strides for American people, such as founding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1956 to coordinate Civil Rights activities. He non-violently demonstrated, protested, and argued for equal rights for black Americans and ALL Americans. Dr. King wanted justice not just for black people, but for ALL people. He spoke out against the Vietnam War saying that the United States should stop bombing North and South Vietnam and declare a truce in hopes that it would lead to peace talks and the withdrawal of American troops . King also believed that the diverted money and attention from domestic programs created to help the poor. In addition, King stated “it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. ” King continued his antiwar stance and supported peace movements until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, one year to the day after delivering his speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam.”
Dr. King did more than fight for civil rights. He inspired others to stand up and fight as well. Martin Luther King Day is not just another holiday. Today we celebrate the life and legacy of a great man who helped bring hope, healing, courage, truth, service, etc. to America. Today is a day of intercultural and interracial celebration and commemoration. Coretta Scott King wrote
“We commemorate Dr. King’s inspiring words, because his voice and his vision filled a great void in our nation, and answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lived by its noblest principles. Yet, Dr. King knew that it wasn’t enough just to talk the talk, that he had to walk the walk for his words to be credible. And so we commemorate on this holiday the man of action, who put his life on the line for freedom and justice every day, the man who braved threats and jail and beatings and who ultimately paid the highest price to make democracy a reality for all Americans.”
Mrs. King also wrote that today is not only a day to celebrate, remember and tribute, but it is also a day of education and “above all a day of service. Let’s not let Dr. King’s work, life and death be for nothing. Let us continue to remember the man and his deeds by letting them live on through us by the service we perform for one another.
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