The Pathos of Politics (63) Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

American Baptist minister and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–1968) was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. A gifted orator, King sought to eliminate racial bias in the United States, especially legal discrimination.

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War, southern states pursued a policy of disenfranchisement and segregation of the black population. This was codified in so-called Jim Crow laws.

Northerners did not have Jim Crow laws. Oppression and segregation there were achieved through various private socioeconomic mechanisms, including job discrimination and bank lending practices.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

King galvanized those interested in egalitarian civil rights like never before.

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.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

King instigated the 28 August 1963 March on Washington that electrified the nation. To date it was the largest protest in the nation’s capital. Over 250,000 people were there to hear King’s now legendary 17-minute “I Have a Dream” speech. The protest was instrumental in the passage of federal civil rights laws in the next 2 years – The Civil Rights Act of 1964 & The Voting Rights Act of 1965.

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

King was appealing to all precisely because he embraced nonviolence as the means to effect change.

For his nonviolent efforts, King was personally injured and jailed on numerous occasions. On 29 March 1968, King was killed by a single bullet while standing on a balcony at the hotel where he was staying in Memphis, Tennessee.

There is no way a ten-cent white boy could develop a plan to kill a million-dollar black man. ~ American civil rights leader James Bevel

King’s supposed assassin claimed that he was part of conspiracy, involving in part the Memphis police and federal agents: a claim upheld in a civil trial in 1999.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

King was under surveillance by federal intelligence agencies prior to his assassination. To the government, King had become a menace, owing to his outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.