“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)
Dr. King was a marvelous, stirring orator and writer. He was a beautiful and flawed person, courageous and fearless.
His “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most beautiful and powerful examples of oratory ever.
Dr. King is arguably most well known for his work on behalf of civil rights for African Americans. His methods (non-violent resistance) were opposed by some within the African American community, for example Malcolm X.
Toward the end of his life Dr. King linked the struggles for civil rights with those for peace and economic justice. When he began to speak out against the Vietnam War, many people within the African American community turned against him. Some believed he risked forfeiting gains in civil rights for African Americans by speaking out strongly against the Vietnam War. However, he refused to be silent when African American men were fighting and dying in Vietnam for their country and for the freedom of the South Vietnamese while at home African Americans were being denied the most basic civil rights and freedoms.
Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Dr. King later nominated Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work against the Vietnam War.
King was developing a comprehensive, mature view of civil and human rights as being linked inextricably to peace and economic justice. He was expanding his work in the area of jobs and economic justice when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee in April 1968.
We honor Dr. King by speaking out – by not being silent – when we see that something is not right morally. How can we argue against the fulfillment and expansion of human rights for everyone?