By REV 21 Staff
January 15, 2018
“Here are a few of the many things that were established and inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow civil rights activist leaders”
In the midst of what can be labeled as a second civil rights era, the fight for racial justice still resonates with us today through movements like Black Lives Matter. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s are still relevant to this struggle, considering that today is the honorary day to celebrate his accomplishments as a leader of the largest racial justice movement in American history.
Here are a few of the many things that were established and inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow civil rights activist leaders:
1. Martin Luther King Jr. provided black Americans a national platform that never existed before in American history
For as far back as our textbooks can take us, American governments and regimes have committed heinous crimes against the people of its nation. Starting with the genocide of indigenous people, ill treatment of immigrants, the horrendous institution of slavery leading to the formation of Jim Crow laws, there has always been at least one group of marginalized Americans to exist at a time.
For the first time in written history, however, Martin Luther King Jr. and the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement possessed the capacity to break free from this pattern and speak up against the oppressive legislature.
2. The Civil Rights Movement and the presence of MLK allows us to continue to resist oppression non-violently
The most popular form of resistance today is non-violent protest. Although Thoreau and Gandhi were proponents of this method of protest and Dr. King was certainly inspired by them, he is considered the face of non-violent protest in American history. Whether it be in the form of sit-ins, die-ins, marches, and occupation of public spaces, much of this strategy can be credited to Dr. King.
3. Inter-racial mobilization
Not only was there a platform for black Americans, but MLK successfully mobilized white Americans and gave way for inter-racial justice activism. Having white people speak out against oppression was a major milestone in American history.
In regards to the media, coverage of the Civil Rights Movement was amplified because of the presence of white Americans on the front lines of demonstrations. Although that is not something to be proud of, seeing that white lives were clearly much more valued than black lives, it garnered attention and raised awareness around the movement.
4. Passing of legislation that provided rights for black Americans in a nation that regarded them as inferior
Throughout the century, racial segregation included public facilities to operate as “separate but equal,” which were, in fact, separate but far from equal.
These institutions ranged from schools to public bathrooms and drinking fountains. In 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial segregation in publicly-owned facilities. At the signing of this landmark piece of legislature, President Lyndon B. Johnson personally met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In light of today’s political and social atmosphere, the American people must remember the legacies of great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.
In a world where racial differences seem to be consistently prevalent, we can seek inspiration from the teachings and values of MLK. Love is far greater than hate and hate can only be dissipated with love.