REFLECTION ON MARTIN LUTHER KING JR DAY
Freshman shares his essay about the contributions of Martin Luther King Jr.
I am here to talk about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s role as a civil rights leader through the many things he achieved for the African-American community.
He was one of the great civil rights leaders in the movement. His name was so important to the movement, that he was assassinated by white supremacists as a final act of desperation to bring the movement down.
While King himself was killed, his dream lived on in the spirits of others as they continued to fight for the equality of African Americans. He was only a symbol for people to follow, he was not the movement by himself, but part of the movement—someone to inspire people through speeches and to wow people through actions that demonstrated what the movement was all about.
He led many marches and boycotts, forms of nonviolent protest, to get his points across, such as his famous “I Have a Dream” speech after the march on Washington that talked about wanting the equality of everyone or the Montgomery bus boycott, which helped change the bus system so blacks could sit wherever they wanted on the bus, just like whites, instead of in the back.
King led the civil rights movement through nonviolent protesting. He got the idea by observing Mahatma Gandhi and his work to free India from Britain’s grasp through the same nonviolent protest King used in the civil rights movement. Gandhi was the leader for the Indian independence movement. He mixed principles of Buddhism and Jainism to form his concepts on nonviolence. So, unlike Malcolm X, who said to become free by any means necessary, King and Gandhi believed that nonviolence was the way to go.
The civil rights activists who followed King had fire hoses turned on them and had dogs attack them, were taken to jail and had many other things used against them to discourage their protesting, yet they marched on.
Another thing King and many other civil rights leaders crafted the movement on was civil disobedience. This concept came from Henry David Thoreau, who graduated from Harvard and wrote an essay on civil disobedience that is widely known throughout many colleges. “Civil Disobedience,” the essay, was debating whether it is moral to disobey laws that are wrong. The phrase itself means to disobey a law in peaceful ways, such as disobeying the law that segregated buses in the 1950s in the way Rosa Parks did, rather than lashing out and attacking people to keep your seat.
King reflected on the essay in his autobiography. He said that whether expressed in a sit-in at lunch counters, a freedom ride into Mississippi, a peaceful protest in Albany, Ga., a bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., these are outgrowths of Thoreau’s insistence evil must be resisted and that no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.
King used civil disobedience as one of his main focal points. Not only did he use it, but also other people who were willing to speak out against injustice would do things like go into a restaurant, sit in the whites-only section—unless it was a whites only bar—wait to be served with the full knowledge that they would be taken to jail.
To conclude, King was a good man who believed in the equality of all people. His dream has finally been realized.
Kahlil Wilson Moore - Freshman at Lewis and Clark High School
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