Today, we take time to reflect upon the accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a true patriot who led the civil rights movement in the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. He was the epitome of peaceful protests, calling for the equal treatment of all people, regardless of their race.
It was during a time of segregation, unfair hiring practices, and other injustices for black Americans. In August 1963, Dr. King played a major role in the March on Washington, where approximately 200,000 people, black and white, gathered for a peaceful political rally. The event was intended to bring attention to the rights of black Americans.
With intense racial tension throughout the country, Dr. King stood at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and shared his dream for the future that, “this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'” (History.com, 2009). It was part of his ‘I have a dream’ speech – one that would become synonymous with Dr. Martin Luther King himself.
The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, ending segregation in public places and prohibiting employment discrimination. Eventually the Act paved the way for voting rights for all citizens, regardless of their race, sex, or nationality. Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize and was named Time magazine’s, ‘Man of the Year.’
Unfortunately, today there are more heightened levels of racial tensions, accompanied by violent protests and riots. However, we honor Dr. King for his key role and success in ending division and segregation throughout America with peaceful demonstrations, and recognize his passion to unite all Americans. It was his dream for future generations to live in unity with equal opportunities and treatment, and without discrimination and segregation – we have come a long way, but we still need to improve.
by Barbara Hollister