Monday, 15 January 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day for those both in and outside of the United States. Martin Luther King (1929-1968) was one of the greatest Americans ever — one of the most influential people to modern human society — and his eternal legacy lives on. King played a great role in the civil rights movement which finally led to real freedom for African Americans, even though black Americans had been emancipated nearly a century before the civil rights movement kicked into full swing in the mid-20th century. King was a Nobel Peace Prize-winning civil rights advocate trying to change society for the better through means of nonviolence. He rekindled the flame of rights for minorities in the United States and all over the world. His "I have a dream" speech (video) inspired a nation and a civilization to look at the mess of racial injustices. Yet, even today, Hispanics and blacks and Arabs are being segregated against — even unnoticeably — in the United States' continued racist struggles (poverty, racial terrorist and crime stereotypes only enforced by parts of the US media, social injustices and disliking someone just because they are different from you all play a role, along with economics and the misunderstanding among some white Americans about immigration); Arabs are restricted in Israel because they happen to look like the people launching rockets at Haifa and blowing themselves up in Israeli-occupied areas of Palestine; this does not really have to do with skin color, but still: the anti-semitism all-too-common throughout the world; the label of Middle Easterners as barbaric and Africans as poor, helpless, and self-destructive by a largely wealthy but ignorant and uneducated western public only relying on false stereotypes; just had to add this one to the mix: Michael Crichton likening global warming to eugenics (take it however you like); South Africa still getting over the days of white-only rule; ... it is not hard to find examples of racism and prejudice around the world, even in young children, as well as many other uncontrollable factors of human beings. Obviously homosexuality is also something looked down upon. A person being gay and expressing or even letting on their sexual preference is only a latent version, adapted for the modern day, of a person being black in the days of widespread lynching. But at least sexual preferences and religion can remain superficially latent; the color of your skin cannot.

In conclusion, have a good Martin Luther King, Jr. day. It will be a good day for historical reflection, however painful that may be. Every year it is always an interesting experience as the nation remembers the injustices prevalent in our society in the past — and even the injustices continuing today. He had a dream, a dream that has yet to become a reality, but we're getting closer and should not loose sight of the goal of human equality, tolerance for others, freedom for all! We are clearly still at a point in history when how one looks is a major factor in how one is perceived, especially when that relates to the color of one’s skin. Dr. King, your dream isn't true yet, I, for one, hope for us to get it as close to a reality as possible.

Articles on MLK:

  • Wikipedia:
    Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was a famous leader of the American civil rights movement, a political activist, and a Baptist minister. In 1964, King became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (for his work as a peacemaker, promoting nonviolence and equal treatment for different races). On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1977, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter. In 1986, Martin Luther King Day was established as a United States holiday. In 2004, King was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. He was known as a great public speaker.[1] Dr. King often called for personal responsibility in fostering world peace.[2] King's most influential and well-known public address is the "I Have A Dream" speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C..

  • TIME 100:
    It is a testament to the greatness of Martin Luther King Jr. that nearly every major city in the U.S. has a street or school named after him. It is a measure of how sorely his achievements are misunderstood that most of them are located in black neighborhoods.

    Three decades after King was gunned down on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tenn., he is still regarded mainly as the black leader of a movement for black equality. That assessment, while accurate, is far too restrictive. For all King did to free blacks from the yoke of segregation, whites may owe him the greatest debt, for liberating them from the burden of America's centuries-old hypocrisy about race. It is only because of King and the movement that he led that the U.S. can claim to be the leader of the "free world" without inviting smirks of disdain and disbelief. Had he and the blacks and whites who marched beside him failed, vast regions of the U.S. would have remained morally indistinguishable from South Africa under apartheid, with terrible consequences for America's standing among nations. How could America have convincingly inveighed against the Iron Curtain while an equally oppressive Cotton Curtain remained draped across the South?

  • Encyclopaedia Britannica:
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    born January 15, 1929, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
    died April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee

    original name Michael Luther King, Jr. Baptist minister and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968. His leadership was fundamental to that movement's success in ending the legal segregation of African Americans in the South and other parts of the United States. King rose to national prominence through the organization of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, promoting nonviolent tactics such as the massive March on Washington (1963) to achieve civil rights. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1964.

  • Nobel Prize for Peace

    I will not be able to post tomorrow, sorry. Check back mid-week for updates to the blog!

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