As a teacher, I like to discuss Dr. King in history. I like to put him in context. The entire world was going through a civil rights movement. In the wake of the decolonization that followed World War II, people everywhere were trying to find their collective identity and achieve some kind of equality. He traveled to India and studied the non violence movement led by Mahatma Ghandi. He spoke openly with other civil rights leaders in the US, like Malcolm X, who disagreed with his methods and mindset. Dr. King fought for and achieved concrete changes in US laws to create enduring protections for the civil liberties of people of color. He did it not just for Black people, but all people in our country so that we can all share in the bounties that our country provides.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a driven, intelligent, spiritual, compassionate, well dressed master of the English language. He was the exact opposite of what people today think of when they imagine a Black male.
I look up to Dr. King not because he was perfect, but because he was willing to do the right thing in the face of seemingly insurmountable adversity. He knew that he had a powerful voice and used it, but he was also humble enough to learn from those who had come before him and work with those trying to achieve the same goal. He never stopped learning, he never stopped fighting, and he continues to be the gold standard for resistance to oppression and inequity for me.
I celebrate his birthday in remembrance and respect of everything he secured for myself, my parents, and people of color across our country.
Thank you, Dr. King. Happy birthday.