I can’t let Dr. King’s day go by without posting something in his honor.
His very name inspires visions of courage: not the swaggering bravado of the nineteenth century, nor even the forward-at-all-costs determination of the industrial-age soldiers we came to admire in the twentieth. Martin Luther King’s courage was something different.
It’s one thing, after all, to face your foe with a rifle in your hands, fully aware that he has the capacity to kill you if you don’t kill him first. It’s quite another to face him without any sort of weapon at all, fully aware that if he decides to kill you, there’s probably nothing you can do about it, and the only thing holding him back is his own sense of right and wrong and the fact, maybe, that the world is watching him.
And it’s another thing entirely to convince an entire people to do it with you.
Dogs. Clubs. Fire hoses. Fists. Stones. Knives. Ropes. Guns. The institutional hatred of a larger people, determined to keep them down. These are the weapons the black Americans who marched with Dr. King faced. With nothing but their courage and their voices and the knowledge that they were right, and eventually the nation would see it.
Many of them were scarred. Some were crippled. Some died.
And the Civil Rights Act became law.
They didn’t win everywhere. They didn’t convince everyone. In many ways, we still have a long way to go toward the Dream.
But today, we’re much more likely to judge someone by the content of their character than by the color of their skin. And our nation is the better for it.
Thank you, Dr. King, and all who stood with you. Thank you for your inspiring words and your unwavering courage.
You showed us the way to fight back is not always in kind. You showed us the way to overcome is not always with violence.
You showed us real courage, and you changed the world.