By Prerna Kundu
Edited by Namrata Caleb
15 January marks the birth date of Martin Luther KIng Jr. If he were alive today, he would be 84 years old and proud. Proud of the civil rights movement in America. Proud of those who carried his legacy forward. Proud of a nation that elected an African American President in 2009.
As president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Martin Luther King Jr led the civil rights movement based on the principles of Christianity and ideals of Gandhian non-violence. In the eleven year period between 1957 and 1968, King travelled over six million miles and spoke over twenty five hundred times. He was arrested more than twenty times and was awarded five honorary degrees; named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became a saviour for not just the American blacks, but a symbolic leader for the entire world.
Martin Luther King’s belief in non violent civil disobedience was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. King and his followers made civil disobedience an integral essence of the civil rights movement, as they protested against the archaic and injust laws through sit-ins, and accepting jail sentences to draw the entire world’s attention to racial injustice. History has time and again highlighted the failure of violence to assert political aims and ideologies. King was not just a preacher or speaker, he was a tactician. He truly understood the power of non-violence. Even as his opponents and oppressors acted with heartless brutality, King stood strong and his insistence led his followers to bear each police baton, arrest and attack.
On 4 April 1968, Dr King was assasinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The awe-inspiring voice of Martin Luther King was silenced, but he remains a source of inspiration for those fighting injustice all over the world. Martin Luther King Jr taught us that in the face of difficulties and challenges, we must stand tall and preach what we beileve in. He taught us that we must fight for our dreams and the fulfillment of dreams requires sincere commitment.
Martin Luther King didnt just speak up against racism, he acted against it. Words have to evolve into action if we wish to banish the problems that plague our society. Dr King believed in freedom, brotherhood and a peaceful coexistence. He did not simply fight for the Americans blacks, he strived for a harmounious American society. He taught us that our lives are intertwined and that everything we do affects other people. We are all in this together. Dr King taught us to believe in love. He taught us that hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that; hate multiplies hate and violence multiplies violence, and we must break this chain of evil with light.
Dr King taught us to believe in the power of words. On 28 August 1963, he delievered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
“Ihave a dream today. … 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.”
As these words revebrated down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, ringing with conviction and a moral belief, every individual around the world sat up and listened. Martin Luther King taught us that
words can find their way inside our hearts and join us in the bond of humanity.
Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy lives on even after over 40 years of his death. He was a preacher, a scholar, and a revolutionary. He was a husband, a father, a friend, and a leader. He was a brilliant orator, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and his life was cruelly snuffed out way before his time. But the lessons he taught us remain alive. As we fight injustices and struggle against the confines of cruelty and disunification, we must look up to Martin Luther King Jr.
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Prerna Kunduis a first year Economics Honours student at Sri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University. A part of the debating society, she is fascinated by politics and economics. Her love for reading is nurtured by an inquisitive nature and her favourite genres are historical fiction, classical literature and fantasy. She loves to travel and dreams of trekking around the world once in her life.