By Gulrukh Chughtai; Edited by Ulicia Lawrence-Oladeinde
Martin Luther King Jr. was a social activist and Baptist minister who became known as a world-famous Civil Rights leader. Before his assassination in 1968, Dr. King fought for equality and human rights for African Americans and any other victims of injustice or inequality. His leadership was essential in ending the segregation of African Americans, especially in events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington. The Montgomery Bus boycott was one of the first indications that a peaceful protest could result in changing the law to protect the equal rights of all individuals. The protest prompted the Supreme Court to rule segregated seating on public transportation as unconstitutional. The 1963 March on Washington was a march of 250,000 people led by Dr. King to gain attention to continuing challenges and inequalities faced by the African Americans. This is the march that is famous for Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. In this speech Dr. King addressed the unity of all individuals regardless of race to be able to join and fight for freedom.
“And when this happens…we will be able to speed up that day when all God’s children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”
Martin Luther’s philosophy on social change indicated that nonviolence is the most preeminent way to bring about change. It is the way of life to defeat injustice and win friendship and understanding. He popularized the term “The Beloved Community” that holds a global vision in which all people are meant to share the wealth of the world. The Triple Evils: Poverty, Racism and militarism will not be tolerated because human etiquette will not allow it.
PASCEP has built on the legacy of Dr. King through culturally and socially relevant courses that promote dialogue across the community and university for four decades. Dr. Sonja Sanchez and Dr. Molefi Asanti have championed peaceful activism of African Americans to build their communities. Dr Martin Luther King spoke at the Church of the Advocate, 18th & Diamond Street and facilitated effective dialogue among community activists that included Dr. Calvin Robinson, author of The Journey of the Songhai People.
Almost 53 years after his assassination, Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy lives on. His principals, pillars and beliefs are continuously practiced by many individuals around the world. His fight for civil justice and philosophy on social change has shaped many into motivated individuals who now carry on his beliefs into the new generation.