Monday January 21, 2013
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on the 15th of January, 1929 in the state of Georgia, in the United States of America. He was an African-American Civil Rights leader who challenged racial discrimination and civil right inequities through non-violent means. He championed social justice and raised awareness to the effects of racial segregation in the Southern United States through his superb oratory skills, civil disobedience, writings and sermons. In different instances, he was jailed for his position, yet he continued to challenge and expose the unfair US political and social systems, as well as the mindsets that believed unjust laws saw a difference between people just by the colour of their skin.
Not only was Dr. King an eloquent speaker, he also spoke volumes with his actions. As such, he inspired many Americans from diverse racial backgrounds to follow the cause of non-violent activism, often in the face of intolerance of their own communities.
Dr. King’s most well-known speech is his 1963 “I have a Dream” speech given at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is a speech that is widely respected throughout the world for its vision of communities that do not see racial difference as something to be feared or be a cause for hatred but something that gives individuals identity and being.
He was assassinated on the 4th of April 1968 standing outside his room in Memphis, Tennessee. He was only 39.
Dr. King’s message rings true, not just for the people of the 60s, but to us today in Toronto. Many African-Canadians such as the late Lieutenant Governor Lincoln Alexander, Herb Carnegie, the founder of FUTURE ACES, and authors and community leaders such as Itah Sadu and Rosemarie Sadlier, continue to challenge racism, discrimination and inequities in our society. The message of Dr. King, just like the messages of the many who have come to echo his call, is alive today and we, students, staff, families and communities are given the responsibility to continue the work towards an equitable environment respectful of differences and valuing each other.
Let us mark this day with a rededication to challenging discrimination and inequities in our schools and communities, together building a better society for all.