January 15th is the day the world remembers as the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the man whose words and actions brought about an improved freedom and justice for African Americans. Indeed, Dr. King put his life on the line to make democracy a reality for all in America.
And Face2Face Africa celebrates the life and legacy of Dr. King, it’s important for every human being on earth to reflect on the character of this great champion and the values he stood for in his quest for a color-blind society.
Lessons to Learn
More than four decades after his assassination, Dr. King’s life still serves as one of the greatest moral paradigms that humanity will ever witness.
Dr. King showed the world a steadfast commitment to truth, courage, determination, humility, compassion, justice, and service to the people, regardless of their race or societal standing.
Every day he endured threats, physical attacks, and detention in order to achieve his great dream of bringing down the deep-rooted walls of racial inequality and abuse in American society.
On this day — and others like it — Dr. King’s holiday should be a day of interracial sharing and cooperation, particularly since racial tensions between Whites and Blacks are still widespread. In fact, today’s celebration of King’s legacy couldn’t have come at a better time.
With the United Sates just going through one of the most divisive presidential elections in its history, it should draw on some lessons from Dr. King’s struggle for liberation and understand that justice and equality for all is what America should stand for.
Dr. King’s Journey
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. His legal name at birth was Michael King, but his father changed his name to Martin Luther, after a trip to Germany for the 5th Baptist World Alliance Congress in 1934. The name honored German reformer Martin Luther.
Dr. King Jr. grew up in his father’s church, where he sung in the junior choir. He also witnessed his father’s fearless protests against racial segregation. In fact, Dr. King suffered from depression throughout his life and admitted to having developed resentment against Whites due to the racial humiliation that he and his fellow Black Americans were often subjected to.
At the age of 18, the summer before his last year at Morehouse College, King channeled both his frustration and passion for a better world in to his ministry.
Dr. King would go on to lead numerous peaceful acts of resistance, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Albany Movement, the Birmingham Campaign, the St. Augustine Movement, the Chicago Freedom Movement and the Poor People’s Campaign. He is also renowned for his disruptive marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
What reverberated around the world, though, was his superior oratory skills that prompted him to deliver a number of unforgettable speeches, such as “I Have a Dream,” which Dr. King delivered on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Even though, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was supporting the striking of Black sanitary public works employees, Dr. King remains a beacon to the world for justice, undying hope, and the audacity to demand freedom against all of the odds.
by Fredrick Ngugi