The saying goes that if you live long enough you’ll have seen it all. Well, I guess I’ve lived long enough to see many surprising things. I don’t proclaim to have “seen it all”, but I’ve been witness to some events that one would have never predicted.
On October 14, 1964 it was announced that Dr. Martin Luther King would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the civil rights movement. Fifty-seven years ago, in December of 1964 Dr. Martin Luther King traveled to Oslo, Sweden to take possession of the highest award a civilian can achieve. At age thirty-five he was the youngest ever recipient of the prize and the first ever from the state of Georgia.
If you were not aware during the sixties and seventies, it was a time of great turmoil. Thousands were marching in the streets demanding equality and an end to the war in Viet Nam. Riots were taking place in the cities and the police were enforcing “law and order” very vigorously.
In retrospect, it’s odd to think about two major movements, anti-war and civil rights, occurring at the same time. There was plenty of dissatisfaction for the way things were going from a lot of people. It’s a miracle some moron didn’t suggest storming the Capitol. Some 250,000 protesters did come to the Capitol in the “March To Washington”. Peacefully, I might add. Hmmmm.
In the midst of this turmoil, Dr. Martin Luther King was rallying his followers and pushing forward with the civil rights movement. His philosophy was one of non-violence. How one could rally people to march peacefully unarmed into police lines of truncheons and dogs and fire hoses is beyond me, but Dr. King did it. His efforts to demand equality without creating a blood bath did not go unnoticed by the world community. Unlike Ghandi, who King based his teachings on, King was honored by the Nobel committee. Dr. King was held up to the world as the example for how to achieve a goal without resorting to violence.
The excellent documentary, “Eyes On The Prize”, details the civil rights movement from 1954 through the mid 1980’s. I highly recommend watching it. There is nothing like actual footage taken from the time and place to give one a sense of what the black community was put through. Watching children bravely walking through throngs of hate-filled racists to attend school is something that should be part of every school’s curriculum. Those that have their panties in a bundle about the possibility of Critical Race Theory being taught in schools should be exposed to the footage non-stop like Malcolm McDowell in “A Clockwork Orange” until they get it. It might take some people a long time to get it, but it will be worth the effort if we can get some of these white supremacists to see the light, or at least admit that there is one at the end of the tunnel.
Speaking of the people unaffected by Dr. King’s message, I’m still amazed at how bold and upfront these people are. I guess generations of prosecutorial immunity have emboldened this generation of haters to move beyond their forebears. Where Dr. King and his 200,000 followers could have easily taken the Capitol on that day in August of 1963, they didn’t. Didn’t even try. They were there to make their grievances known peacefully. As a bit of serendipity, they got to listen to the greatest speech Dr. King ever gave, his “I Have A Dream” speech. Contrast that with the January 6th insurrection and you get a sense of the quality of the men running both movements. One leader would not use violence in the pursuit of his goals. The other would use his minions to attack the police and anyone else who stood in the way of his attempted coup.
Speaking of the attempted coup, please watch “Four Hours At The Capitol”. Contrast the actions of the crowds trying to overturn the election and think about what a difference a responsible leader makes to the actions of his crowd. Dr. Martin Luther King was a true leader. He talked the talk and he walked the walk. He led by example and the world is a better place because he walked among us. He was taken far too soon.