I watched a lot of coverage of the fortieth anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination this week. Two thoughts consumed me; first that it is remarkable how far we’ve come and yet how little some things have changed. On one hand we have a serious black candidate for President and a much larger black middle class, and on the other hand, black poverty rates have barely changed and some things, like black infant mortality rates are actually worse than they were in 1968.
I also was struck by how little I heard about King’s adherence to the principles of non-violence. They are mentioned, certainly, but as a throw-away descriptive phrase, the way we say, “George Washington, father of our country.”
Here was a man in one of the most dangerous places in the country, in one of the most violent countries in the developed world, who took up the philosophy of an Indian lawyer to oppose and defeat a 300-year-old social-structure, using passive resistance to open, state-sponsored brutality. I’d like to know more about how he chose that path. Do any of you know much about how King came to these beliefs?