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Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Civil Rights March In Washington D.C. in 1963.

During a march on Washington, D.C., back in August 1963, civil rights activist and minister the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech that was heard around the world. 

“I have a dream,” he recited, “that my four little 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. I have a dream today.”

Now, nearly 54 years after his assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, that speech still has clout, and its message is still being spread, but unfortunately King’s children and granddaughter still do not see what he had envisioned so long ago. 

The murders of Black men and women including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and David McAtee — just to name a few — still continue some five decades after King’s plea for our country to stop its racism, bigotry and hate. 

How can we as a society still continue to judge, harass and kill people based solely on the color of their skin? Have we not learned?

This week would have been MLK’s 93rd birthday, and he would be ashamed of what is going on in our country.

When he died in 1968, Black people in America were fighting for their basic human rights. Now it’s 2022 and people of color are still fighting. Fortunately, they’re being joined by many others in the fight. 

While the summer of 2020 was one of civil unrest, protests, anger and tears, it was a summer which again started the conversation that enough is enough. 

In 2022, we as a society need to continue moving forward — not backward. 

MLK’s dream was for children, Black or white, to play happily and peacefully together. 

Let us start this new year with his dream in mind. Let us show respect for our neighbors and support causes of conscience. Let us remember the injustices and work to make sure they are not repeated.

We have the ability to succeed better as a society but what it will take is an awareness of injustice and the resolve to root it out.

Let us continue to keep Dr. King’s dream alive.  

METRO photo

Each January, Americans honor the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. with a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January each year. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929, King would grow up to become one of the most influential people of the 21st century.

King’s tireless activism during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s improved the lives of millions of people, and his tragic assassination on April 4, 1968, marked one of the darkest days in American history. King’s oratory prowess is well-documented. Individuals across the globe are familiar with his “I Have a Dream” speech, which King delivered during the March on Washington less than a year before his death. Less familiar are some other notable facts about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

• If he were alive today, Martin Luther King, Jr. would still be years away from his 100th birthday. King was assassinated in 1968, when he was not yet 40 years old. Born in Atlanta in 1929, King could very much still be alive today and would have celebrated his 93rd birthday on January 15, 2022.

• King was an extraordinarily gifted student. At an age when many students were preparing to enter their sophomore or junior year of high school, King began his freshman year of college at Morehouse College. King enrolled at Morehouse when he was 15 after the school opened enrollment to junior high students in an effort to overcome a dip in enrollment related to World War II. King passed the entrance exam and enrolled in the fall of 1944.

• King was ordained as a minister prior to graduating from Morehouse. The Baptist ministry was something of a family business for the Kings, as Martin Luther King Jr.’s father, grandfather and great grandfather were all Baptist ministers. However, King did not initially intend to follow that path. He ultimately changed course and entered the ministry at age 18, graduating from Morehouse with a degree in sociology a year later.

• King survived a knife attack years before his assassination. King was stabbed in the chest with a letter opener during a book signing event in Harlem in 1958. His assailant, Izola Curry, was ultimately deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial. Though the attack did not kill him, King had to undergo intensive emergency surgery and was hospitalized for several weeks.

• Conspiracy theories surround King’s assassination. King’s assassin, James Earl Ray, was found guilty and sentenced to 99 years in prison. Authorities, including the United States Department of Justice, concluded Ray, a career criminal, acted alone. However, some, including surviving members of King’s family, believed his assassination was part of a conspiracy. Despite his tragic assassination in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. left his mark on the world. That legacy is even more remarkable when considering the unique twists and turns King’s life took prior to his death.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was a remarkable human being. Celebrations of his life can involve revisiting some of his more notable moments.

Martin Luther King Jr. during a visit to Brandeis University in 1957 at the age of 29.

Join Building Bridges in Brookhaven’s 5th annual (and first virtual) Martin Luther King, Jr., Birthday Celebration on Saturday, Jan. 16 from 1:30 to 4:40 p.m. With this year’s theme We’re All in This Together!, the afternoon’s speakers will focus on local issues of environmental racism/ecological devastation and homelessness and offer practical steps to take action.

Co-sponsored by:
The Poor People’s Campaign Long Island Chapter
The Brookhaven Landfill Action and Remedial Group (BLARG)

WEBINAR SCHEDULE
Introduction and Live Music – 1:30 – 2:00 p.m.
“Environmental Racism Hiding in Plain Sight”– 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
“Homelessness & The Poor People’s Campaign’s Winter Offensive” – 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Wrap-up and Live Music – 4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Webinar will be also be live-streamed via the Building Bridges in Brookhaven Facebook page. For more information, call 928-4317 or email [email protected]