We Should Choose To Follow In The Leadership Of MLK
MLK's words and principles can guide us as we fight against those who seek to undermine liberty, justice, and democracy.
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Martin Luther King, Jr. was so much more than a meme to be shared on social media on his birthday. His words and principles can guide us through the darkness today as we struggle against the same powers seeking to undermine liberty, justice, and democracy in an increasingly divided and corrupted political system.
A Nobel, Boycotts and Bombs
Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his peace work. His grandfather was a pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, his father was as well and then MLK, Jr. followed as co-pastor.
King was a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and he worked fearlessly and nonviolently for Civil Rights, which included a bus boycott that lasted 382 days. King was not only arrested but his home was bombed in an attempt to silence his powerful voice and work.
A pause while we appreciate the purpose of boycotts, and how they can work nonviolently to help disenfranchised groups be heard, as we contrast this dignified but steadfast demand for rights with the very undignified and violent storming of the U.S. Capitol in 2021 over the Big Lie.
One is a demand for justice, and the other is a demand for power over others. They are opposites. Let today be the day we no longer allow gaslighting about the Insurrection. It was not a peaceful protest. It was an armed, violent uprising against the government by people who were angry that they lost an election. They weren’t fighting for equal rights; they were fighting to nullify the rights of the majority.
MLK Jr. is a Martyr and Leader
The Right treats the Insurrectionists like they are martyrs, but it was MLK, Jr. who was shot and killed for actual peaceful and non-violent protests. Let today be the day we no longer tolerate this conflation, which seeks to rob leaders like MLK, Jr. of his legacy, and does so to embiggen the legacy of white supremacy that tried to keep him down.
Let it not be lost on us all that enslaved laborers played a vital part in the construction of the U.S. Capitol, only to have this country turn its back on them over and over again when it came to the very freedom that building represents.
Think for a moment about the people who criticize football players for taking a knee, for example. Are they sharing a quote from MLK, Jr. on his birthday, enshrining their efforts to silence the downtrodden with the voice of someone who advocated for a historical boycott, when their actions actually align with the oppressors who arrested King?
Ideals from Christianity, Operational Techniques from Gandhi
King was made president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization that the Nobel describes as being "formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi.” They noted that he traveled “over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile, he wrote five books as well as numerous articles. In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience."