King only wanted to gain equality for all without violence
He was said to have incited violence among the black community with his powerful speeches, but Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. actually preached against violence. He only wanted equality for all men.
In his “I have a dream” speech, undoubtedly his most well-known sermon, he makes it plain that freedom must be obtained without blood shed.
When you listen to a recording of his voice you hear each word spoken calmly in the same tone:
“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 forever 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.”
I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s and was aware, thanks to the invention of television, of rioting and violence that was going on in the deep south, but it never effected me directly.
There was no ethnic diversity in Estill County. The only time I ever encountered members of another race was when Estill High basketball teams played teams from other counties.
I never understood why some people thought that just because their skin wasn’t white, they were different from us.
Why is our own heritage more important than that of other human beings?
Women were also targets of discrimination. As the so-called ‘weaker sex,” we weren’t given the right to vote until 1920, even though the forward thinking Abigail Adams cautioned her husband to remember us.
She told her husband John, as he and other patriots were working on independence from England in 1776 “remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors.”
Otherwise, she warned, “we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”
Of course when the Declaration of Independence was written, it proclaimed that “all men are created equal” but said nothing about women’s equality. The 19th amendment changed that 144 years later.
African-Americans were given the right to vote by the 15th amendment ratified on Feb. 3, 1870. It was one of the ‘reconstruction amendments” added after the civil war. But it didn’t automatically mean they could vote safely in the deep south.
I was as horrified by Dr. King’s assassination on June 10, 1968, a mere four days after Robert Kennedy, as I was by President John Kennedy’s.
And so on Monday the nation observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day in honor of his birthday, which is actually Jan. 15. The bill to establish the holiday was signed by President Ronald Reagan on Nov. 2, 1983, but it wasn’t observed for the first time until Jan. 20, 1986. It is set for the third Monday in January each year.
We will never know how much good he might have accomplished if his life hadn’t ended by the violence he abhorred.