Saturday, April 5, 2008


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?


jack said...

sure...MLK understood the value of an quality education

hankster said...

I just read an opinion by a Catholic priest in the Canadian newspaper, the National Post (I am in BC).

He contents of MLK's speaches of 1963 had changed by 1967 when he spoke at Toronto. The Vietnam war and the turn to violence had changed his stance from firmly being non-violent to something which was short of condoning property destruction. Perhaps it is a stretch, but extrapolating his position leads to Sharpton, J Jackson and Wright. Wars reap whirlwinds. We all remember how violent America became after Vietnam. Granted, there has always been violence, lynchings, hatred, but Vietnam brought it back to our hometowns. Do we owe Iraq a probable coming escalation in domestic angst?

DMJ said...

Where have all our leaders gone?

While watching Friday's coverage of MLK, I could not think of one leader today. We have electd officials, but we are obligated to have a Pres, VP, 50 Senators, etc.

Bobby Kenneedy's speech in Indy following MLK's assasinationmay have been the bravest and most moving of my lifetime. We killed him , too.

Perhaps I am a little foggy this AM, suffering a hangover from the most boring NC2A men's BBall tournamment in history (The last 12 of 14 games were blowouts), so please enlighten me if any leaders exist today, besides the Dali Lama.

Don't miss "King" tonight on the History Channel

AY said...

To answer your question, DB, here's a quote from a bio on MLK:

While at the seminary, King also read about Gandhi and his teachings. King was struck by the concept of satyagraha, which means truth-force or love-force. He realized that "the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.” King, however, was still not convinced that nonviolent resistance was a viable method in the US. His acceptance of nonviolence would come years later during his involvement in the Montgomery bus boycott. It was at this time that King's earlier intellectual realization about the power of love was put into action. As nonviolent resistance became the force behind the boycott movement, his concerns were clarified. He recognized that nonviolent resistance was a powerful solution, and he committed himself to this method of action.