Martin Luther King Jr. Day may only be a holiday in the U.S., but Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the most widely known African American leaders around the world. His philosophy of non-violence, the March on Washington, and the famous “I have a dream” speech echo throughout history across global borders. They serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations. He did not meet violence with violence. He stated, “an eye for an eye, leaves everyone blind.” His non-violent philosophy was a catalyst in the civil rights movement, creating a national stage and attracting other people to stand up for the cause – for themselves.
In fact, Martin Luther King’s activism had a very personal impact on my family.
My great aunt took my mother, at the age of 14, to the March on Washington. My family knew the importance of the struggle and allowed my mother to be part of history. My mother was a young girl at the time. She lived in New York City and attended private school. A 14-year-old city girl did not understand the significance of the March on Washington and the power of having a dream. My mother was sheltered by her adolescent experiences and could not understand that it was not ‘someone else’s’ struggle but ‘our’ struggle. When she told me the story, she was grateful and understood the importance of being there. The impact was so much more powerful because it was a family lesson.
Every year on MLK day I listen to the ‘I have a dream’ speech and recognize the truths that still resonate today. We all have the opportunity to spectate or participate – to teach our children and the next generation to look beyond their own backyard and recognize the winds of change and adjust their sails to become part of it!
If you’re not sure how you can become part of the change, I recommend you listen to the speech and have a conversation with your children. Also speak to others and hear about their experiences that coincide with history and look beyond your own backyard.
Most importantly, run with your part of the dream!
If you’re curious about others’ perspectives on Martin Luther King and his philosophies, check out this commentary: