Let’s Hail The King!
A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Alex Redd

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

January 19, 2004

The American society is becoming more culturally diversified after years of racial discrimination and social injustice. Violence and racial segregation in transportation facilities, public accommodations, hiring practices and voting rights characterized past centuries. There were stringent laws in some states barring colored people from many activities.

Such social injustice and maltreatment experienced mainly by blacks has now been reduced through the relentless efforts of one of America’s greatest civil rights leaders. His vision and dream to make America a better place for all, despite color, race and ethnic and religious backgrounds, have paved the way for social change and national unity in American society.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly defined the true meaning of courage, perseverance and good leadership ability. King’s activism for social justice and freedom vividly illustrated his courage in pursuing nonviolence through peaceful demonstrations and passive resistance in the face of guns, fire horses, police dogs and police brutality.

What does it feel like when a gun is pointed at you? How does it feel when a 40-mile-an hour water spray knocks one down to the pavement? What if huge, vicious German shepherd dogs are snarling and snapping at you? It would be easy to fight back. It is more courageous to be passive.

King’s home was firebombed. He was arrested and jailed many times. Yet he urged positive, nonviolent action, a strategy he borrowed from Gandhi’s successful effort to free India from British rule. King never wavered in his quest for freedom and social justice despite many threats on his life. He always persevered.

Can you imagine leaving your family at home to deliver 208 speeches within one year?

King’s messages of love, freedom, peace and national unity through his writings and speeches spread like a wide fire throughout the South, West and East of America as well as the world over. His training as a preacher and his innate eloquence did much to further his cause. Never was his astute leadership ability more apparent than when he galvanized national opinion to march on Washington D.C.

It was a hot, sweltering summer in 1963 when a gigantic turnout of more than 250,000 people swamped the nation’s capital for a peaceful demonstration to further the cause of equal justice for African Americans. King, sharply dressed in a dark business suit, majestically walked to the podium to deliver his prophetic and moving “ I Have a Dream” speech. That speech and other efforts to integrate American society stirred the nation’s conscience, contributing directly to the enactment of landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

Jesse Jackson, one of his closest aides, once said, “The denial of human rights anywhere is a threat to human rights everywhere. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” King’s dream to unite us as one people still lives on. So let’s think for a moment and reflect on the great effort of this man whose ideals and thoughts have had worldwide approval. This man paved the way for American society to be more culturally unified despite color, race, ethnic background and religious affiliations.

As we can see in our society today, African Americans and other minority groups are participants in our national political, social and economic structures. Martin Luther King Jr., an advocate, writer, teacher, preacher and true freedom fighter, deserves credit for his struggle to eliminate the disease of racism that has plagued American society for too many years. Let’s hail the King! Free at last, free at last!

The author, Alex Redd, is a former recipient of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship at the University of Wisconsin---Madison in 2000.