“I Have A Dream”
By Kyle Huang
We all have big dreams for the future. Some of us dream of becoming astronauts, others wish to become doctors. In 1963, influential Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had an even more ambitious dream. What Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of for the future was equality.
Let’s dive into the life of this hero who inspired millions with his dream.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. Because of the color of his skin, Dr. King experienced racial prejudice at a young age. At the time, America had very unjust laws of segregation –laws that discriminated and separated people due to their skin color. If you were colored, you would not have been able to attend the same schools, ride the same buses, or go to the same restaurants than if you were white. Segregation was upheld by law at the time because of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling to divide racial groups in “separate but equal” facilities. However, in America, it was very clear that things were separate but not equal. Dr. King pledged to dedicate his life to fixing this unjust system and to bring equality to all Americans.
Dr. Martin Luther King is highly revered today not only because of his mission, but how he chose to advocate for justice. Dr. King believed in non-violent protest and civil disobedience. Here are a few of Dr. King’s most notable events/achievements.
In 1955, Dr. Martin Luther King helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott was sparked into action by Rosa Parks, an African American woman who was arrested after refusing to give up her seat at the front of the bus to a white man. In order to protest segregated seating, African Americans refused to ride buses in the city of Montgomery, Alabama for over a year. The Supreme Court of the United States eventually forced the city of Montgomery to integrate its bus system. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the first large-scale protest on segregation and helped cement Dr. King as an influential Civil Rights leader.
In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama after peacefully protesting using coordinated marches and sit-ins. The march sparked national coverage because of the city’s disproportionate response in attacking peaceful protestors with fire hoses and police dogs. While jailed, Dr. King wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail''. In this letter, Dr. King expressed his disappointment at white moderates --white people who supported the equality movement yet never took direct action against racial inequality. After he was freed, Dr. King organized the March on Washington where he gave his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize at age 35 and was influential in helping pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, or religion.
Every year, we commemorate Dr. King’s legacy on Martin Luther King Day on the third Monday of January. Although Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was instrumental in bringing forth the civil rights that we enjoy today, his work for equality for all is unfinished and racism and discrimination are still present in our society. Some examples of the racial issues we face in America today are the continual pattern of police brutality and arrests against African-Americans and the rise in violence against Asian-Americans. Each and every one of us has a duty to speak out against injustice and work with each other to fulfill Dr. King’s lifelong dream of racial equality.