Monday, January 21, 2008

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- the dream thrives

I was just a kid when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came to prominence as a civil-rights leader. I remember the "I have a dream" speech and a few marches, and that's about it. We lived overseas during a good part of his rise as a leader, and I'm sure I missed a lot.

We came back to the states just in time for his assassination. It was a terrible time of murders, of marches.

I really didn't come to appreciate the minister until I was an adult, and read his speeches.

One that brought tears to my eyes was this account:

In 1967, King spoke to a group of students at Barratt Junior High School in Philadelphia. He said, “I want to ask you a question, and that is: What is your life's blueprint?”

He went on the say, “Whenever a building is constructed, you usually have an architect who draws a blueprint, and that blueprint serves as the pattern, as the guide, and a building is not well erected without a good, solid blueprint.”

“Number one in your life's blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your worth and your own somebodiness. Don't allow anybody to make you fell that you're nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance,” King urged the students.

We all need a good, solid blueprint. Whatever our race, our sexual orientation, our circumstances, even our looks -- whatever negative messages we received growing up. First, we have to believe in our own dignity.

King was felled by an assassin's bullet in 1968.

The birthday of civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Martin Luther King, is remembered on the third Monday of January. King was born Jan. 15, 1929.

The son of the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, King answered a call to the clergy, as well as to a call to seek equality for all and to advocate for the poor and against the war in Viet Nam. He believed in nonviolent forms of protest, which led to his arrest at a number of demonstrations throughout the South.

He came to prominence as a leader in the civil-rights movement after he led the black boycott of segregated buses, resulting in the desegregation of Montgomery, Ala., bus service in the mid-1950s.

King's “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the climax of a 1963 civil-rights march through Washington, D.C. It helped speed the passage of major civil-rights legislation through Congress.

King’s dream was not one just for young black people. His vision was one of children standing together, hand-in-hand.

He said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

At 35 years of age, King was the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize. King was also a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957.

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