One is hard-pressed to say something new about Martin Luther King. That he was one of the great leaders of the Civil Rights Movement seems, by all accounts, to be an understatement. Individuals fought against his ideals from the day he was born. And following his death, when a few members of Congress thought it was time to recognize this American, there was more fighting. There seemed to be a lot of fighting around this man who walked a path of peace and freedom.
Mahatma Gandhi led a peaceful resistance to fight for the freedom of an entire country from a colonial power. But Martin Luther King’s battle was more intimate—he was fighting for the freedom of other Americans.
These “other” Americans had been systematically pushed down, held back, and treated in every way possible to keep them from enjoying the most common freedoms enjoyed by white Americans.
Today, the history of the Civil Rights Movement’s events seems unfathomable. But the prejudices toward anything or anyone different from ourselves are still endemic. Congress passed the national holiday into law in 1983, but it was not until 2000 that most states would observe it. Unfortunately, many still disapprove of a national day to honor this man and all for which he stood.
We suggest taking time today to read or re-read his speech, “I Have a Dream.” Imagine yourself saying those words for yourself, your family, your children, and your grandchildren.