The ideas of equity and social justice dreamed up by Martin Luther King still sound distant in the United States, 54 years after a bullet ended the life of that symbol of the fight for civil rights.
This was the caravan against the blockade in Havana
Until his assassination on April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was a tireless fighter against racism and for the social rights of minorities in the US, whose principles keep millions of people alive in the world.
On the 54th anniversary of his assassination, Dr. King, as he is also known, was one of the most influential figures of the last century. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work for civil rights, he left an important legacy.
His “I have a dream” became the permanent call for equality, without exclusions, in a society where “black people are still not free” and continues “sadly gripped by the shackles of segregation and by the chains of discrimination”, as he stated that day.
That black and white skinned people can coexist harmoniously as equals
Her activism against rational discrimination was highlighted when she joined the demonstrations that encouraged the so-called Montgomery bus boycott, a year-long campaign that was sparked when seamstress Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat in a bus to a white passenger.
After the Supreme Court struck down Alabama’s bus segregation laws in 1956, King co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and promoted nonviolent action for civil rights throughout the American South.
When in 1963 he was arrested and imprisoned for his participation in protests in Alabama, “probably the most segregated city in the United States”, according to King himself, his commitment to peaceful civil disobedience against the unjust laws of racial segregation was radicalized.
Then, demonstrations and political activism organizations in defense of civil rights and against Jim Crow laws multiplied, enacted by white state legislatures throughout the United States, from San Francisco to New York.
That peace can be achieved without violence
Martin Luther King advocated promoting non-violent political activism, one of the most important aspects of his legacy, which differentiated him from other anti-racist movements led by the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam, in favor of more forceful actions.
Speaking during his visit to India in 1959, King said: “Today we no longer have a choice between violence and non-violence; it is non-violence or non-existence”. His philosophy was inspired by Gandhi’s nonviolent action to end British rule in India.
Because of this, experts of his work warn that King inspired others to change their societies through non-violent means, such as Nelson Mandela’s fight to end apartheid in South Africa.
Let there be freedom of religions
With regard to religious freedom, Dr. King considered that for the church to fulfill its mission in society it needed to be free, which was possible if the political and religious powers were independent. “The church must remember that it is neither the master nor the servant of the State, but the conscience of the State. It must be the guide and critic of the State, and never its tool”, he opined.
This separation means that governments cannot impose on churches what they must believe or teach, nor can they silence the voices of those who defend causes according to their religious consciences.
In addition, that communities and people of faith should not impose their religious values and convictions on the whole of society through the State.
That governments respect civil rights
On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people gathered in a march for freedom and employment that took to the streets of Washington (United States capital). On that occasion, King delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech, cataloged by historians as one of the most sublime and transcendent political speeches in the history of the United States and of the peaceful struggle.
Luther King began his speech by referring to the transcendental Emancipation Decree that, at that time, was celebrating 100 years of having been signed by President Lincoln and that meant the arrival of “a beautiful dawn at the end of a long night of captivity”.
Remembering Dr. #MartinLutherKingJr on his death anniversary. I have dedicated his life to the nonviolent struggle for civil rights in the US. #MLK‘s leadership played a pivotal role in ending entrenched segregation for African Americans & to the creation of the CivilRights Act of 1964 pic.twitter.com/4Tt0LptkB0
— Dayanand Kamble (@dayakamPR)
April 4, 2022
However, he added, “a hundred years later, the Negro is still not free… and is exiled in his own land…” Despite the fact that the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence explicitly contained “the promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
In 1964, then President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and other aspects of life. King attended the signing of the law, and in the same year he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Over the next several years, he continued to push for a new law to ensure that blacks could not be denied the right to vote through discriminatory practices, such as literacy tests. In 1965, Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.