As short a time ago as the 1960s segregation held sway in the United States. Whites were considered superior and supremacist groups, such as the Klu Klux Klan, were widely supported. They might have been forced to do away with slavery through losing the Civil War but the notion still prevailed – They viewed the Black Race as inferior and were determined to keep them down. The idea of equality was repugnant. It is a Racist ideology that persists to this day and results in the situations that are occurring in US cities where black lives are considered cheap and blacks are being shot by police.
We’ve still got a way to go.
In the 1960s segregation was apartheid. Blacks had different buses, water taps, cinemas, music, housing and even concerts were segregated. To be black was to be second class. They were actively prevented from voting.
Martin Luther King was a Baptist Minister and Humanitarian. Born in 1929 he lead the Civil Rights Movement (SCLC) and fought for equal rights and the vote. He fought for desegregation – the rights for schools, jobs, transport and utilities to be shared by all. He inspired mass protest and based his tactics on those of Mahatma Ghandi.
There were sit-ins, marches, bus boycotts and protest. Protestors were beaten up, murdered, harassed, threatened, abused and arrested. They remained non-violent and defiant.
In 1963 Martin Luther King called for a march on Washington. A million white and black people, side by side, marched on the Capital and were roused by the incredible oratory of Martin’s as he delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
He was an incredibly brave man. The FBI and CIA did their best to discredit him. He received death threats. On the march between Selma and Montgomery in 1964 he was expecting a bullet with every step. He marched regardless.
He was condemned by black radicals such as Malcolm X of ‘The Nation of Islam’ and members of the Black Panthers for being non-violent. They believed the only way to get equality was to fight for it and demand it. They were wrong.
Martin Luther King diversified his protest to fight for an end to poverty and to oppose the Vietnam War. He saw it all part of the same struggle.
In 1968 he was assassinated. A cowardly sniper shot him on his balcony at the motel he was staying in in Memphis.
I visited that balcony, stood on that spot and was grateful that we had people as brave, fearless, intelligent and outspoken. Without such people we would be oppressed and still in the Dark Ages. They gave us light and hope for a world of real equality.
Where are our leaders now?