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A Tribute to
Dr. Martin Luther King
Dr.

About the man of Peace

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

                Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929
             in Atlanta Georgia. His father was the minister of the
             Ebenezer Baptist Church, as was his father before him.

                "M.L.," as he was called, lived with his parents, his
             sister and brother in Atlanta Ga. Their home was not far
             from the church his father preached.

                M.L.'s mother and father taught their children what
             would become an important part of M.L.'s life - to treat
             all people with respect. Martin's father worked hard to 
             break down the barriers between the races. His father  
             believed African-Americans should register their  
             complaints by voting

                As M.L. grew up he found that not everyone followed
             his parents principles. He noticed that "black" people 
             and white people where treated differently. He saw that 
             he and his white friends could not drink from the same 
             water fountains and could not use the same restrooms

                M.L.'s best friend as a child was a white boy and as
             children they played happily together. But when they
             reached school age the friends found that even though 
             they lived in the same neighborhood, they could not go 
             to the same school. M.L.'s friend would go to a school       for white children only and M.L. was sent to a school for "black"
             children. After the first day of school M.L. and his friend
             were never allowed to play together again

                When M.L. was ready for college he decided to follow
             his father and become a minister. While attending the
             Crozer Theological seminary in Pennsylvania he became
             familiar with Mahatma Gandhi, who had struggled to free
             the people of India from British rule by "peaceful
             revolution"

                M.L. was also inspired by the work of Henry David
             Thoreau, particularly his essay called "Civil
             Disobedience." It stated that if enough people would follow
             their conscience and disobey unjust laws, they could bring
             about a peaceful revolution

                It was also at college that M.L. met a young woman
             named Coretta Scott and they would eventually marry. In
             1954 M.L. received his PhD. and accepted the job of pastor
             of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery,
             Alabama

                Martin Luther King, Jr. would now be addressed as
             "Dr. King"

                Dr. King's involvement with the civil rights movement
             began with the arrest of Mrs. Rosa Parks on December 1st
             , 1955. Mrs. Parks, a African-American seamstress on her
             way home from work, was arrested for not giving a white
             bus rider her seat. Mrs. Parks was not the first
             African-American to be arrested for this "crime", but she
             was well know in the Montgomery African-American
             community

                Dr. King and the other African-American community
             leaders felt a protest was needed. The African-American
             residents of the city were asked to boycott the bus
             company by walking and driving instead. The United States
             Supreme Court would end the boycott, which lasted 381
             days, by declaring that Alabama's state and local laws
             requiring segregation on buses were illegal. The boycott
             was a success and Dr. King had showed that peaceful mass
             action could bring about change

                In January 1957 the Souther Christian Leadership
             Conference (SCLSC) was formed with Dr. King as their
             president. The following May 17, Dr. King would lead a
             mass march of 37,000 people to the front of the Lincoln
             Memorial in Washington, DC

                Dr. King had become the undisputed leader of the civil
             rights movement

                Partly in response to the march, on September 9, 1957,
             the US Congress created the Civil Rights Commission and
             the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, an
             official body with the authority to investigate voting
             irregularities

                Dr. King and the SCLC organized drives for
             African-American voter registration, desegregation, and
             better education and housing throughout the South. Dr.
             King continued to speak. He went to many cities and
             towns. He was greeted by crowds of people who wanted to
             hear him speak. He said all people have the right to equal
             treatment under the law. Many people believed in these
             civil rights and worked hard for them

                Dr. King was asked constantly to speak. So in order to
             spend more time with his family he wrote his first book,
             Stride Toward Freedom which was a success. While signing
             copies of his book in Harlem, NY an African-American
             woman stepped forward and plunged a letter opener into
             Dr. King's chest. Dr. King recovered from his wound and
             the woman was eventually declared insane

                In February 1959 Dr. and Mrs. King went to India, the
             homeland of Mahatma Ghandi. In India Dr. King studied
             Satyagraha, Gandhi's principle of nonviolent persuasion.
             Dr. King was determined to use Satyagraha as his main
             instrument of social protest

                After his return to America, Dr. King returned home to
             Atlanta, Ga. where he shared the ministerial duties of the
             Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father. The move also
             brought Dr. King closer to the center of the growing civil
             rights movement

                In January 1963 Dr. King announced he and the
             Freedom Fighters would go to Birmingham to fight the
             segregation laws. An injunction was issued forbidding any
             demonstrations and Dr. King and the others were arrested

                Upon his release there were more peaceful
             demonstrations. The police retaliated with water hoses,
             tear gas and dogs. All this happened in the presence of
             television news cameras. It would be the first time the
             world would see the brutality that the southern
             African-Americans endured. The news coverage would
             help bring about changes as many Americans were
             disgusted and ashamed by the cruelty and hatred

                Continuing the fight for civil rights and to celebrate the
             100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, on
             August 28, 1963 200,000 people gathered in the front to
             the Lincoln Memorial. It was a peaceful protest, made up of
             African-Americans and whites, young and old. Most had
             come to hear Dr. King deliver his famous "I have a dream"
             speech

                1964 would be a good year for Dr. King and the civil
             rights movement. Dr. King was nominated for the Nobel
             Peace Prize as someone who "had contributed the most to
             the furtherance of peace among men." Dr. King would
             divide the prize money, $54,000, among various civil rights
             organizations

                President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act
             into law. It guaranteed that "No person in the United States
             shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be
             excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or
             be subjected to discrimination"

                In the winter of 1965 Dr. King lead a march from
             Selma, Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery to
             demand voting reforms. 600 marchers would begin the
             march but after 6 blocks the marchers were met by a wall of
             state troupers. When the troopers with clubs, whips and
             tear gas advanced on the marchers it was described "as a
             battle zone." The marchers were driven back while on the
             sidewalks whites cheered. 2 ministers, 1 white and 1
             African-American, were killed and over 70 were injured
             with 17 hospitalized. It was the most violent confrontation
             Dr. King had experienced

                A court order overturning the injunction against the
             march was issued and the marchers were allowed to
             proceed. When they arrived in Montgomery the marchers
             were greeted by 25,00 supporters singing 'We Shall
             Overcome." On August 6, 1965 a voting rights bill was
             passed allowing African-Americans to vote

                Dr. King believed that poverty caused much of the
             unrest in America. Not only poverty for African-Americans,
             but poor whites, Hispanics and Asians. Dr. King believed
             that the United States involvement in Vietnam was also a
             factor and that the war poisoned the atmosphere of the
             whole country and made the solution of local problems of
             human relations unrealistic

                This caused friction between King and the
             African-American leaders who felt that their problems
             deserved priority and that the African-American leadership
             should concentrate on fighting racial injustice at home. But
             by early 1967 Dr. King had become associated with the
             antiwar movement

                Dr. King continued his campaign for world peace. He
             traveled across America to support and speak out about
             civil rights and the rights of the underprivileged

                In April 1968 Dr. King went to Memphis, Tennessee
             to help the sanitation workers who were on strike. On
             April 3rd Dr. King would give what would be his last
             speech:

                  "We've got some difficult days ahead. But it
                  doesn't matter with me now. Because I have
                  been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind.

                  Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.
                  Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned
                  about that now. 

                  I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me
                  to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over.
                  And I've seen the promised land.

                  I may not get there with you. But I want you to
                  know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the
                  promised land. And I'm not fearing any man. 

                  Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of
                  the Lord"


                The following day, April 4 1968, as he was leaving his
             motel room Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and
             killed. 
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I HAVE A DREAM

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s

"I Have a Dream" Speech

Aug. 28, 1963

 

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon of hope to millions of Negro slaves, who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. But one hundred years later, the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacle of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our Nation's Capital to cash a check. When the architects of our great republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.

This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed to the inalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check that has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is not time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.

Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of it's colored citizens. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must ever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality.

We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities.

We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "for white only."

We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of your trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by storms of persecutions and staggered by the winds of police brutality.

You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our modern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today, my friends, that even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow. I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day 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.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

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.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one-day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and every mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to climb up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father's died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!"

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. So let freedom ring from the hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that, let freedom, ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi and every mountainside.

And when this happens, when we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual,

"Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

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with
R. Jean Carmichael

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