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Monday, January 21, 2008

I have a dream!

In 1776 the thirteen original United States colonies drafted the Declaration of Independence; a document that said, in part “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness”. In 1787 the Constitution was ratified by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This document is the supreme law of our country and gives us our Bill of Rights. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”, as stated by our first Amendment. Seventy five years later Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation declaring freedom to all slaves in the Confederate States of America. Two years later in 1865 the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified to the Constitution officially abolishing slavery.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 the son of Alberta Williams King and Martin Luther King Sr. in Atlanta Georgia. Growing up in Georgia, Martin Luther King Jr attended segregated schools, graduating high school at the age of fifteen. In 1948 he received a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) Degree from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta, both father and grandfather graduated from Morehouse College. After Morehouse, King spent three years at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he received a B.D. (Bachelor of Divinity) Degree in 1951. When he finished his studies at Crozer he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University. He completed his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and in 1955 he received his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.d).
While in Boston, King meet a young women name Coretta Scott and on June 19, 1953 Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, Jr. were married on the lawn of her parent’s house. The ceremony was performed by Martin Luther King, Sr. Scott and King would go on to have four children. After school and marriage, Martin Luther King, Jr. accepted a pastoral role at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where his father was also a pastor in Montgomery, Alabama.
Dr. King is one of the most widely revered figures in American History for his role in the civil rights movements. Inspired by Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau, Dr King led peaceful, non-violent protest for freedom and equality. Like Gandhi, King practiced Civil Disobedience.
In 1955 on December 1, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to comply with the Jim Crow Laws that required blacks to give up their seats to whites. This arrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, planned by E.D. Nixon and led by King. The boycott was a social and political protest intended to oppose the city’s policy of racial segregation on public transit systems. The boycott ended after 381 days when the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on public transit. During these protest, King’s house was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse and was arrested. However he emerged as a leader in the civil rights movement.
In 1963, before the March on Washington there was nation-wide outrage from media coverage of police actions in Birmingham, Alabama. Attack dogs and fire hoses were turned against protestors, many where in their teens. King was among the protestors that day and was arrested and while in jail he wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was held on August 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C. Attended by over two hundred and fifty thousand people where he delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech. King was among the so-called “Big Six” leaders of civil rights organizations that were the main organizers of the march. The march was organized with specific demands to end racial segregation in public school, meaningful civil rights legislation, protection for demonstrators against police brutality and a two dollar an hour minimum wage.
In March of 1968 Dr. King went to Memphis Tennessee to support striking city garbage workers represented by AFSCME Local 1733. On April 3rd King went to Memphis where he addressed a rally and delivered his “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” address at Mason Temple. King was staying at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in room 306. On the evening of April 4 while standing on his balcony of his hotel room at 6:01 PM Dr. Martin Luther King was shot in his right cheek. At 7:05 PM St. Joseph’s Hospital declared King dead. The assassination of Dr. King lead to nationwide riots and two months after his assassination, escaped convict James Earl Ray was captured and later sentenced to 99 years on a guilty plea.
In 1964 at the age of 35, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. Dr. King was arrested over twenty times, he was assaulted at least four times, and he had his house bombed during his acts of civil disobedience and protest for equal rights. Between 1957 and 1968 he traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty five hundred times, he was awarded five honorary degrees, and was named Man of the Year by Time Magazine in 1963.

The fight for freedom and equality has been going on since the beginning of mankind and still continues today. Today is a day to honor a true hero in the march toward freedom and peace and a remembrance to all those who fought the fight before him and after him. Dr. King demonstrated that the message of freedom will always prevail.
edom will always prevail.

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