[Note from BenIndy: This post was first published on Stephen Golub’s blog, A Promised Land: America as a Developing Country. There, Steve blogs about domestic and international politics and policy, including lessons that the United States can learn from other nations. If interested, you may sign up for future posts by subscribing to the blog.]
Nonviolence over brutishness, inspiration over resignation, love over hate.
By Stephen Golub, January 15, 2024
Monday marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Preaching nonviolence over brutishness, inspiration over resignation, love over hate, his message rings truer than ever as we tread into 2024. I’m marking it here by sharing videos featuring a remarkable rock song and an even more powerful speech.
One lesser known aspect of MLK’s work was its international dimension. Traveling to India in 1959, he wrote that “India’s [Mahatma] Gandhi was the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.” He further linked “the Christian doctrine of love” to the Hindu leader’s words and actions.
King conversely inspired and supported human rights struggles across the globe. He helped mobilize international opposition to the South African government’s 1957 prosecution of Nelson Mandela and 155 other anti-apartheid activists for alleged treason. Mandela in turn echoed King’s resounding “Free at last!” cry on several occasions, including when proclaiming his party’s 1994 election triumph that capped the end of apartheid.
But others celebrate MLK far better than I can. Check out the clip that introduces this post. It couples the brilliant U2 song dedicated to King, “In the Name of Love,” with images portraying his life and legacy.
And prize the highlights from one of history’s greatest speeches, King’s “I Have a Dream” address, delivered (and, incredibly, partly ad-libbed) at the Lincoln Memorial as part of the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom:
Shot dead at only 39, MLK did not live to see most of the massive progress he spurred, nor the backsliding that’s also occurred – including in America, India and South Africa. We can view that mixed aftermath as a source of resignation, I suppose. But especially in view of the challenges we face, far better to draw inspiration from all that King achieved and sacrificed in the name of love.
Once more, Steve blogs about domestic and international politics and policy, including lessons that the United States can learn from other nations, at A Promised Land: America as a Developing Country. We recommend you sign up for future posts by subscribing to the blog.
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