Sunday, January 17, 2010

Martin Luther King, Jr.: We Shall Overcome

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was born January 15, 1929. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, this young man who envisioned millions to believe in change. A change that demanded all Americans are to be treated equal in the racially segregated South. A man who would be celebrated across the country on this third Monday, a leader to envision Civil Rights for all Americans. If Dr. King was still alive, he would have celebrated his 81st birthday.

According to Wikipedia, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was founded in January 1957, in the afterglow of the Montgomery Bus Boycott victory and consultations with Bayard Rustin, Ella Baker, and others, Dr King invited some 60 black ministers and leaders to Ebenezer Church in Atlanta. Their goal was to form an organization to coordinate and support nonviolent direct action as a method of desegregating bus systems across the South. In addition to Rustin and Baker, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth of Birmingham, Rev Joseph Lowery of Mobile, Rev Ralph Abernathy of Montgomery, Rev C.K. Steele of Tallahassee, all played key roles in this meeting.

Today, the SCLC still holds true to these standards, combat discrimination, focus primarily on education, voter registration, and support for local struggles.

As we celebrate the birthday of Dr. King, I want to remind those who are reading that King was an American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the African-American civil rights movement. His main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the United States, and he has become a human rights icon: King is recognized as a martyr by two Christian churches. A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president. King's efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. There, he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in U.S. history.

In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. By the time of his death in 1968, he had refocused his efforts on ending poverty and opposing the Vietnam War, both from a religious perspective. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. national holiday in 1986.

Somehow politicians and organizations are quick to take credit for the success of Dr. Martin Luther King.

National Black Republican Association claims that Dr. King was a Republican.

The Democratic National Convention in Denver hosted SCLC President Bernice King and her bother, Emeritus Martin Luther King, III.

To bring an end to racism will take time, patience and continuation of the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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