“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (paraphrased from the Bloody Sunday Sermon of 1965)
I was six years old when I began to comprehend the mainstream legacy of Dr. King. You may be familiar with the half-truths they teach kids in public school. They portray Dr. King as an upright, imperfect man who marched and organized so whites and Blacks could be friends, attend the same schools, and eat at the same dining counters. However, it was not until I was seventeen that my true comprehension of Dr. King’s career and determination was, in fact, radical. King is his last name for a reason!
What I admire about Dr. King was his grit, collaboration, and tenacity. Dr. King was determined to defy systems of oppression everywhere. For he believed that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere (Dr. King, A Call for Unity 1963). Generations prior, Blacks were convinced that injustice would only be condemned in the afterlife. To elaborate, God leaves out nobody and the most effective change would have to occur beyond this earth; stirring the pot could have cost Blacks their livelihood, homes, and lives. Nevertheless, I’d like to imagine the fury Dr. King felt as a 26-year-old hearing about Emmett Till’s murder in 1955. Something had to change!
Dr. King was a Civil Rights Movement organizer, first beginning in his community of Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. King graduated from Morehouse College at the age of 15 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology (the study of society, socialization, and human problems). In the Fall of 1948-- just months after earning his B.A.-- Dr. King enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. While attending Crozer, he also studied at the University of Pennsylvania. He studied Civil Disobedience (Henry Thoreau, 1849) as a method of problem-solving. Desegregation, voting equality, housing equality (specifically in Chicago, IL), labor and worker’s rights (the infamous “I Am A Man” march) were some of Dr. King’s matters of devotion.
Today, we are witnessing political and racial tension at explicit levels. We question democracy, justice, and egalitarianism (the political philosophy of equality). Some do not agree with the legacy of desegregation; arguing that desegregation led to a complex shift in the Black community, therefore the Black Power Movement was imperative to reinstate pride. However, desegregation-- differing from housing, decriminalization of Blackness, and other matters--had a precedent in the courts with Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Civil rights activists took that pot and stirred it! To that point, will you be willing to stir the pot and create a change? First, like my mom always says, study to show yourself approved. Change must be inside-out. You’re never too old or too young to embody the change you wish to see… remember, it all began with a dream!
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