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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of America’s most profound figures. As we celebrate his birthday holiday in January and his death in April, we still are trying to realize his full impact.
This year 2018 forces us to look at King’s deeds, as he was assassinated some 50 years ago at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
What did Dr. King do? He changed America; he challenged America to be the country that it said it was. He defined the change during a relatively brief, 13-year career in social justice, protesting, boycotting and marching. But most of all he preached, and changed came.
King’s movement was a youth movement. He took America’s youth, the majority from Black colleges, and made them a force to be reckoned with. He filled the jails with college students. In the summer, the northern white kids went south to help with voter registration.
The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN
Dr. King with Hosea Williams, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., and Rev. Ralph Abernathy
Dr. King's room at The Lorraine Motel, where he spent his last night.
The young army went to jail for the right to vote. They walked across Selma’s bridge facing guns and horses as they stared racist policemen in the face. King made the federal government protect the marchers after three attempts. He literally stood on the side of truth and looked power dead in the face and dared America to be all that it could be. About 500 people crossed that bridge with him.
The longer King is dead, the greater his presence, the greater his power becomes. His staff was small but mighty, and brilliant and dedicated. Little-known behind the scenes tales tell of how King paid his staff. There were no foundation grants, no sponsorship dollars for the marches.
But King passed the hat in goodwill organizations, with entertainers, and most all in the church community, to raise funds. That was a hard job – appealing to good men for good deeds for good money for the good cause of civil rights.
His assassination on April 4, 1968, was devastating. America’s urban Black communities went up in flames and still beg for recovery. His executive staffers, scattered, like Andrew Young, John Lewis and Jesse Jackson, entered the political arenas and changed the game.
Dr. King lived under constant threat, from house burnings to airplane bombings to church bombings to jailing, as he challenged the American system of racism with his non-violence. He realized that he would probably be killed as he challenged America’s status quo. But he showed no fear as he moved about preaching the truth.
The Baltimore Sun News Headlines
King was a freedom fighter. He fought racism, poverty and war. He was adamant and steadfast even when his civil rights cohorts turned on him to say he should not address international matters like the Vietnam War.
In one of his most controversial speeches, at Riverside Church in New York, delivered exactly one year before the day of his death on April 4, 1967, King came out against the Vietnam War and the policies that created it.
The speech was written by activist and historian Vincent Harding and tied the anti-war movement with the civil rights movement.
The NAACP, civil rights leader Ralph Bunche and mainstream media like the New York Times and the Washington Post barked that King had gone too far and should stick to just trying to improve a lot of Black people.
But King said the Vietnam War was wrong and stood his ground, adding his loud voice to the Peace Movement. King refused to be boxed in by other folk’s limitations. In his last year, some Black people began to challenge King – they questioned out loud his methodology of non-violence.
They questioned his relevancy. But King stood his ground and said non-violence worked and he would continue to use it as a tool. His poll ratings were at a low point with the American public, whites and blacks included.
Dr. King at Riverside Church in New York
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The Southern Leadership Conference
As we reflect on King’s life and legacy, it is certain that he was one of the most powerful and prolific men of his era. He was as powerful as any President of the United States, without a single elected vote. He was a real community organizer, and his community was America.
His civil rights career started at the young age of 26 in Montgomery Alabama, with his first church. He gave voice to Rosa Parks’ protest of refusing to sit on the back of the bus. His acclaim rose as he learned to use his voice and the protests to attract the attention of mainstream national and eventually international media.
The depth of King’s belief in social justice influenced the media to demonstrate to the world the social ills and the unjust treatment of Black southerners. He rose to the occasion. He made ‘the Negro” rise. He changed the South.
King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was formally organized in January 1957. He learned the principles of non-violence from Mohandas Gandhi as a method to confront social injustice and to lead what he called “America’s third revolution – the Negro Revolution.”
King raised Black consciousness. His classic “letter from a Birmingham jail” addressed white clergymen and expressed his innermost feelings about the social dynamics of Black America.
The August 28, 1963 March on Washington he led was epic, with 250,000 people from all over the country assembling in the nation’s capital to support civil rights legislation
March on Washington 1963 Flyer
March On Washington 1963
Dr. King Addressing Crowd @ The March on Washington 1963
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Dr. King hit with rocks at Marquette Park, Chicago, IL
White Protesters in Chicago
The Chicago Movement
King changed politics when he came to live in Chicago on the West Side on Hamlin Street. He challenged Mayor Richard Daley’s democratic machine even as the powers-that-be told him his services were not needed here because there was no racism here.
But King argued that point and unfortunately had the point demonstrated to the world when he was hit with rocks thrown from a crowd of approximately 700 white folks during a violent protest march through Marquette Park on Chicago’s South Side on August 5, 1966.
The Chicago Tribune’s account of the event read:
“King and hundreds of demonstrators had scarcely set out on a march to promote open housing when he was struck by a rock. The blow knocked King to one knee and he thrust out an arm to break the fall. He remained in this kneeling position, head bent, for a few seconds until his head cleared.
“Aides and bodyguards closed in around King, holding placards aloft to shield him from the missiles that followed. King and the demonstrators had hoped to reach a real estate office on nearby 63rd Street, intending to demand that properties be rented and sold on a nondiscriminatory basis in the all-white Chicago Lawn neighborhood.
“Only a few of them made it before a riot broke out. At least 30 people were injured, some by a hail of bricks and bottles accompanied by racial epithets. Some counter-demonstrators were clubbed by baton-wielding police officers. More than 40 people were arrested when a crowd of whites blocked adjoining streets and cursed the police, several of whom were hurt.”
Afterwards, Dr. King said of the incident: “I've been in many demonstrations all across the South, but I can say that I have never seen – even in Mississippi and Alabama – mobs as hostile and as hate-filled as I've seen here in Chicago.”
King’s time in Chicago led to the formation of an independent politics here that eventually produced Harold Washington as Chicago’s first Black mayor, Jesse Jackson as a serious Black presidential candidate, and Barack Obama as America’s first Black president.
Dr. King was jailed 30 times. He marched and he marched and he marched. His preaching style was theology and poetry with a Baptist delivery. He led a student movement to the height of power in the land. Everyone counted in what he called “the beloved community.” He exemplified the definition of leadership. But the King era lasted a mere 13 years, with his death at the young age of 39.
As we examine his legacy and impactful, yet brief life, you can’t help but wonder what King would be doing in today’s social and political milieu. No doubt he would be marching with the kids on gun violence. He would make the kids an army. Indeed, they are borrowing a page from his playbook right now.
And I am sure that he would use his voice against Trump, as only a minister could. And most of all, there would definitely be the King Tweet.
80-year-old Ken holds his dog, Zack, for the last time. (Photo: Carol Burt)
Not many people at the mobile home community in Hemet, California, could say they knew their neighbor Ken. The 80-year-old retiree kept mostly to himself — his only companion a little dog named Zack.
"I know quite a bit of people from walking dogs because I foster a lot," neighbor Carol Burt tells MNN. "I had seen Ken with Zack a couple of times. He’s very quiet. Doesn’t say anything. Just kind of a wave and we went on."
But one evening, about two weeks ago, Burt suddenly found herself an unlikely lifeline for them both.
There was a furious banging at her door. It was one of her neighbors, telling Burt she needed to pay Ken and Zack a visit.
"Okay, let me finish dinner and I’ll go look," Burt said.
"No, you need to go now," the neighbor said. "Go right now."
Burt rushed to Ken’s mobile home, where she found the 16-year-old dog suffering from a litany of health issues.
Zack the dog was 16 years old and in need of a veterinarian. (Photo: Carol Burt)
"Ken was in tears," Burt recalls. "He said, 'I don’t know what to do. I have no money to take him to a vet.'"
This little community of seniors didn’t have a lot of money to pool together, especially for an emergency room visit. So Burt took her plea to social media.
"When I was walking back to my house, I thought, 'Well, I’ll just put it out on Facebook.'"
She figured she might be able to get $50 or even $100 in donations.
An hour later, she got a call from Elaine Seamans, founder of the At-Choo Foundation, a rescue that typically focuses on getting help for shelter dogs in need.
"What are your plans for getting Zack to the vet?" Seamans asked.
"Well, we’re going to go Monday morning," Burt replied.
"No, you’re going to go tonight. I will cover all the medical expenses."
Burt walked back to her neighbor’s place and told him to grab his coat — they were going to the emergency clinic.
But once there, they soon realized Zack wouldn’t be coming home again.
"We lost him that night," Burt says. "He had so many, many issues going on with him."
Ken lost a piece of himself that night, too. He wept uncontrollably when holding Zack for the last time.
"They were together alone," Burt says. "These two had not had any other companionship except each other for 16 years."
During that soul-rending goodbye, Burt took a picture — "just a quick snapshot," she says.
But it was an image that would resonate with anyone who’s ever said goodbye to the love of their life.
"I thought, 'Oh my God, we can relate to that grief,'" she tells MNN. "I wanted to send him a card and I wondered if other people would, too."
They did. In fact, countless cards and letters and offers of support flowed to the foundation from around the world. An artist offered to paint a picture of the pair. Someone else pledged food for life for Ken’s next dog. A teacher had her entire class write letters of encouragement.
"So many people cared who he didn't know and would never know," Seamans says. "I am blown away by all of the people I am reaching on the foundation page."
Cards and donations flooded to this little community from around the world. (Photo: Carol Burt)
As for Ken, there’s a twist. Burt has been delivering letter after letter to the grieving man. She says it made a real difference.
"He was so overwhelmed by people sending cards who didn’t know him," Burt says.
One day, surrounded by cards, he held one up to Burt and said, "I don’t know these people. I have never met them. I never will meet them. And yet, look at this!"
"He was crying for the loss of his dog and also crying because so many people cared who he didn't know and would never know," Burt explains.
Maybe the emotion was too much for Ken. Two weeks after he'd lost Zack, he had a heart attack.
But even at the hospital, his neighbor and newfound friend was there for him. She took him cards, letters, home-cooked meals. She even brought one of her foster dogs for a visit.
The dog would sit in Ken’s lap and, for a little while, brought him some cheer.
"And then he’ll look up at Zack’s plaque and his little box," Burt recalls. "I could see the devastation in his eyes and I just know it’s time to go. He’s had enough and wants time with Zack again."
But the letters keep pouring in. Seamans is sending another heap to the man as he recovers in hospital. There are offers to pay for a dog adoption. And food for life. And medical care…
Donations, too, are piling up.
"I was hoping to generate just a couple of dollars to get Zack to the vet on Monday morning," Burt says, her voice choked with tears, "It’s turned into this. It’s amazing."
So get better, Ken. The whole world is pulling for you. And the letters are piling up. But most importantly, a little dog has left a legacy — a whole new life — that’s just waiting to be lived.
It turns out Zack left the biggest legacy of all for his old friend — a brand new life. (Photo: Carol Burt)
copied from mmn.com on yahoo the mother nature network