“MLK Day” has various meanings for many people around the world, as the National Holiday was presented with opposition, but the man and his philosophy of world peace in the midst of world war has resonated an obligation to a generation of nonviolence. We have learned from political, social, and economic struggles a reason for anger, but to be taught how to be aware instead of angry is a right to an eternal peace, and this is the very reason why days are set to honor such visionaries as Dr. King. Specific to any civil rights movement are youth who feel enslaved to the oppression that has been wrought against them because of a passage for freedom that has not been laid for them. However, this opposition that freedom fighters face will always be familiar to the historic civil rights era that both youth and elders remember, acquainting us to the history that we will collectively make in the future. As we have been honoring MLK every year in January since the 1980’s, we have been honoring ourselves by committing to a nonviolent philosophy.
Significant to the civil rights era of the 1960’s were protests for peace, in which progress was challenged with more aggressive protests in the 70’s. The rise of the Black Panther Party highlighted inadequacies in King’s nonviolent philosophy, due to an increase of police brutality that caused segregationist attitudes in America’s largest cities. Dr. King’s movements, however, were effortless in not only campaigning for racial justice, but economic equality, and could not have been achieved without his unique optimism for integration.
A generation of political indifference and police brutality has compromised hope. Minorities are suffering from a lack of cooperation with Congress and other legislative powers, and this results in a loss of the collective hope that MLK sought. When considering this despair that such violence creates, we must reconsider the hope that nonviolence recreates. The election of Barack Obama, progressively deemed, “America’s First Black President,” serves as a reminder of Dr. King’s dream, and their visions should be reflected through our concerns for each other, cooperating America’s so-called minority and majority.
Protests follow injustice as a way to voice anger of the American people, but a continuance of injustice should inspire protestors to demonstrate hope to overcome both the anger and injustice, as anger perpetuates injustice. Current demonstrations have been critiqued for a lack of focus on a specific outcome, but the demonstrations are themselves critiques of violent outcomes from police encounters. To lead demonstrations with the goal of eliminating violence caused by discrimination is to learn nonviolent ideas, practices, and demonstrations. Abiding by that philosophy, we are not only honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but echoing the movement from his era to hear our own.