Tuesday is an important day in our countries future. On Tuesday, January 20th 2008 Barack Obama becomes President in a country where less than 50 years ago it would have been hard for him to vote in many parts of this country because he is an African American. Historical to say the least.
Today is an important anniversary in our countries past and yes future. Today is Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday. He would be 80 years old if he had not been gunned down at the young age of 39. That is right he changed the world he lived in for the better before he was forty. A man who started a movement that insured that Barack Obama and millions like him would be guaranteed their right to vote , and all of the other civil rights that we Americans are promised in the United States Constitution.
Some of my older classes have been looking at Mahatma Gandhi this week. Gandhi led a peaceful protest against the racism and discrimination of Indians in their own nation by the English. He used non-violent protest like King to change laws and gain freedom. Indeed he did it first. King learned from Gandhi about the principles of non-violence and love as weapons to fight injustice and racism. King learned that violence would not change things, he saw that peaceful protest was the only way to really change things. And things have changed. I was very young when King was murdered, I remember. I am old enough to see the changes in our world. I owe as does Barack Obama a debt of thanks to King and the thousands of people who fought peacefully for equality for all people.
One thing that Gandhi said that really applies to King ” Be the change you want to see in the World” King was the change he wanted to see. He gave up his life, working for years to make this world better for all. King was the change he wanted to see in the world, was an example of love and peace.
Yes Tuesday is an important day, celebrate it, enjoy it and remember it. After a past that included slavery and segregation we have an African American President, but lets not forget how important today, January 15th is as well.
Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.
December 1, 1955
Rosa Parks ignites bus boycot
In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks is jailed for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, a violation of the city’s racial segregation laws. The successful Montgomery Bus Boycott, organized by a young Baptist minister named Martin Luther King, Jr., followed Park’s historic act of civil disobedience.
“The mother of the civil rights movement,” as Rosa Parks is known, was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1913. She worked as a seamstress and in 1943 joined the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
According to a Montgomery city law in 1955, African Americans were required to sit at the back of public buses and were also had to give up those seats to white riders if the front of the bus filled up. Parks was in the first row of the black section when the white driver demanded that she give up her seat to a white man. Parks’ refusal was spontaneous but was not merely brought on by her tired feet, as is the popular legend. In fact, local civil rights leaders had been planning a challenge to Montgomery’s racist bus laws for several months, and Parks had been privy to this discussion.
Learning of Parks’ arrest, the NAACP and other African American activists immediately called for a bus boycott to be held by black citizens on Monday, December 5. Word was spread by fliers, and activists formed the Montgomery Improvement Association to organize the protest. The first day of the bus boycott was a great success, and that night the 26-year-old Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., told a large crowd gathered at a church, “The great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right.” King emerged as the leader of the bus boycott and received numerous death threats from opponents of integration. At one point, his home was bombed, but he and his family escaped bodily harm.
The boycott stretched on for more than a year, and participants carpooled or walked miles to work and school when no other means were possible. As African Americans previously constituted 70 percent of the Montgomery bus ridership, the municipal transit system suffered gravely during the boycott. On November 13, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Alabama state and Montgomery city bus segregation laws as being in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. On December 20, King issued the following statement: “The year old protest against city buses is officially called off, and the Negro citizens of Montgomery are urged to return to the buses tomorrow morning on a non-segregated basis.” The boycott ended the next day. Rosa Parks was among the first to ride the newly desegregated buses.
Martin Luther King, Jr., and his nonviolent civil rights movement had won its first great victory. There would be many more to come.
Rosa Parks died on October 24, 2005. Three days later the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to honor Parks by allowing her body to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.