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Martin Luther King Jr. fought so we could soar

Jon Wilson, Connection Staff
January 25, 2012

It wasn’t until grade school and the lessons during Black History Month that I realized not everyone in the United States had always been treated equally.

My naivete was because, as a young child, my mother always taught me the value in everyone, regardless of who they were or what they looked like.

What I was soon to learn was previous generations fought, some with their lives, just so children like myself would have the opportunity to choose to see past a person’s race.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, delivered at the Washington Monument in 1963.

King was a social activist and the most prominent of the leaders of the civil rights movement during the ‘50s and ‘60s, until his assassination in 1968.

Unlike some of the other African American activists, like Malcolm X or Huey Newton, who believed in countering injustice with physical violence, King embodied the civility of the civil rights movement, which was peaceful protest in order to achieve equality for African-Americans, and really, for all races.

“In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds,” said King. “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

This is why I admire Dr. King so much, because he was smart enough to know that fighting injustice with more injustice would never garner societal peace, and was strong enough to resist the temptation to physically combat the wrongdoings done to him.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline,” said King. “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”

There were many civil rights leaders over the years who had a part in creating the equal opportunity society we live in today. All of whom deserve a world of credit.

However, in my eyes, King had the charisma and natural leadership to be able to take what so many believed in and communicate it to an entire nation.

He was a beacon of hope. He was a symbol of a changing time. He was a martyr whose life was taken because of the cause he stood for.

I am proud to live in a society that has allowed me to have a multitude of friends of different races and different backgrounds.

It’s unfortunate that our country hadn’t always been as accepting, but because of the efforts and sacrifices of civil rights leaders like Dr. King, it is now.

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!” he said.

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