The late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., would have been 93 years old today. We commemorate his life and achievements in civil rights, nonviolent protest and struggle for equality and against segregation on Monday with a national holiday in his honor.
Dr. King was a prayerful man throughout his life. Like his father and grandfather before him, he graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta. He then entered the Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. Despite his class being predominantly white, he was elected class president and graduated with Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951.
From there he went to Boston University for his doctorate in System Theology.
Dr. King went on to become the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, also like his father and grandfather. He was pastor in April 1968 when an assassin cut his life short at age 39.
Dr. King began his international quest for civil rights for African-Americans with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. In 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court found the laws of the state requiring segregation on buses to be unconstitutional.
It was then Dr. King was arrested, jailed and his home was fire-bombed. From his jail cell in 1963, he penned his renowned Letter from Birmingham Jail, which was a treatise that argued the case for non-violent resistance against racism.
Dr. King was a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that led many of the civil rights protests in the late 50s and throughout the 60s. In an 11-year period, he traveled more than six million miles and spoke more than 2,500 times against racial injustice and for nonviolent protest and legal action to change discriminatory laws across the U.S.
At age 35, he was the youngest man to receive the honored Nobel Peace Prize.
It was in 1963 when he directed the March on Washington to protest for jobs and justice and where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
“As long as the mind is enslaved, the body can never be free,” he said. “Psychological freedom, a firm sense of self-esteem, is the most powerful weapon against the long night of physical slavery.”
Like his inspiration before him, Mahatma Gandhi, he was assassinated when he stepped out for air on his hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Dr. King was there to lead a march in sympathy with striking garbage workers.
Today and tomorrow, we choose to emulate the peace, justice and equality for all people that Dr. King gave his life for so the laws of the U.S., if not the hearts its citizens, see the removal of codified hatred in the hope to someday replace it with love.
– Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” – Dr. Martin Luther, May 8, 1967