*Featured image courtesy of popularresistance.org.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born some 85 years ago on January 15th. He lived a brief purposeful life. Born in Atlanta, Georgia and assassinated in Memphis in 1968, he died at the too early age of 39. He transformed America and today we still live his effects. We owe much to King for challenging America to live up to its creed, its Constitution and its Declaration of Independence. He made freedom and equality on those documents a reality. Through his marching he made America live up to the words of our forefathers.
In today’s language, King literally called America out. He made a people stand up, sit down and march. He was an “occupier.” His insult level was high. He took second-class citizenship seriously and he challenged it. He was a great leader, focused, determined and most of all he had integrity. He was a community organizer. He had no grants, no foundation money, and no corporate sponsorship. His support was faith based. The church was his base, the pulpit, his platform. His funding was from the people he advocated for.
He was a Baptist minister and he spoke the truth from the Bible. He gave America a new thought. His sermons were masterful, a lesson for all, a message for many. His voice started southern and became universal. He changed the American system. Black folk became integrated into the mainstream. King killed overt segregation. He changed America’s public policy. He erased bad laws. He brought what had been called the “American problem” to the forefront. His work became a “movement.” He was the mastermind of a youth movement.
It is interesting to note that all of the social ills done to African Americans were legal — segregation of public places, sitting on the back of the bus, the discrimination was legal. King challenged the system and forced it to change. Bad laws were eradicated. King’s voice was to make America “right” and to correct the legal “wrongs.”
When you think of Dr. King, you think of change. He was a change agent. The word change is used a lot in the political jargon these days. But it was King’s movement that brought forth systemic change.
King was a profound man in a profane world. His leadership style is still admired and studied today. He changed a country. He changed a people. He challenged. He was the pathway for Black America’s full citizenship.
As we celebrate King’s birthday, remember King for how he actually lived his life. He was strong. He was committed. His was a powerful authentic voice. He did not shy away from the issues of the day. He addressed them, even when he was criticized and scorned for doing so. He spoke truth to power.
King’s moral voice was loud, it is missing today as the world has gone wild. I wonder where King’s movement would be today, utilizing social media tools. I wonder if he would have gone viral.