“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.
-DID YOU KNOW?-
By Tara Yilmaz
→ Did you know persistence and fear are two components of courage? According to the University of Pennsylvania article on "Authentic Happiness" by Ben Dean Ph.D., he states that “most philosophers and psychologists agree that courage involves persistence in danger or hardship.” But what does that mean? In the words of the mysterious author of this quote Marcel France "The secret of life is this: When you hear the sound of the cannons, walk toward them." This is comparable to firefighters running into a burning building or soldiers bravely going to war. Facing any type of adversity is not for the faint of heart. It requires courage, determination, perseverance and sometimes the willingness to fight for a cause that is worth dying for. A dream of equality is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in and indeed died for.
"There is nothing greater in all the world than freedom. It's worth going to jail for. It's worth losing a job for. It's worth dying for. My friends, go out this evening determined to achieve this freedom which God wants for all of His children." — Martin Luther King Jr.
→ Did you know Dr. King helped usher in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965? The 15th Amendment was passed by Congress on Feb. 26, 1869, and ratified on Feb. 3, 1870. The 15th Amendment granted African American men the right to vote but in the reflection of the amendment in the U.S. Constitution, the National Archives website (archives.gov) quotes “In retrospect, it can be seen that the 15th Amendment was in reality only another step in the struggle for equality that would continue for more than a century before African Americans could begin to participate fully in American public and civic life.” Social and economic segregation was added to Black America’s loss of political power. In 1896, the Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson legalized “separate but equal” facilities for the races. For more than 50 years, the overwhelming majority of African American citizens were reduced to second-class citizenship under the “Jim Crow” segregation system.
→ Did you know Dr. King was inspired by his father Rev. Martin Luther King Sr.? NAACP.org documents Dr. King’s rise and legacy. Born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, King witnessed his father standing up to segregation. In 1936, King's father also led a march of several hundred African Americans to Atlanta's city hall to protest voting rights discrimination. There is no doubt watching his father’s involvement shaped his view on the importance of civil rights.
In 1955, Montgomery, Alabama’s African American community staged a successful bus boycott that began when Rosa Parks made history after refusing to give up her seat for a white passenger on a Montgomery bus and the boycott lasted for over a year. King played a pivotal leadership role in organizing the protest. His arrest and imprisonment as the boycott's leader propelled King onto the national stage as a lead figure in the civil rights movement.
→ Did you know in Dr. King’s “How Long, Not Long” speech he predicted that equal rights for African Americans would be imminently granted? Less than six months later, then President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act banning the disenfranchisement of African Americans.
→ Did you know the fight for voting rights continues with the Freedom to Vote Act? The transformative legislation would set national standards to protect the freedom to vote, ban partisan gerrymandering, overhaul our campaign finance system, and safeguard the electoral process. Together with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act—which would restore and update the full protections of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965—the Freedom to Vote Act would be the most comprehensive democracy reform law enacted in decades.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere… We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
— Martin Luther King, Jr.