MLK was a leader for all Americans
Atmore City Councilman
History is indeed made up of significant events which have shaped our future and of outstanding leaders who have influenced our destiny.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s contribution to our history places him in this unique position. In his short life, Martin Luther King was instrumental in helping us realize and rectify those unspeakable flaws which were tarnishing the name of America. The events which took place in and around his life, and the lives of many of you here today, were earth shattering, for they represented an America which was hostile and quite different from America as we see it today.
Dr. King began his march into America's history when he came to the assistance of Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Black seamstress who refused to give up her seat on a segregated Montgomery bus to a white passenger. In those days, American Blacks were confined to positions of second class citizenship by restrictive laws and customs. To break these laws would mean overcoming the humiliation by the police and the legal system. Beatings, imprisonment and sometimes death were waiting for those who defied the system.
Black Americans needed a Martin Luther King Jr., but above all, America needed him. The significant qualities of this special man cannot be underestimated nor taken for granted. Within a span of 13 years, from 1955 to his death on April 4, 1968, he was able to expound, expose and extricate America from many wrongs. His tactics of protest involved non-violent passive resistance to racial injustice. It was the right prescription for our country, and it was right on time. Hope in America was waning on the part of many Black Americans, but Martin Luther King Jr., provided a candle along with a light. He also provided this nation with a road map so that all people could locate and share together in the abundance of this great democracy.
We honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because he showed us the way to mend those broken fences and to move on in building this land rather than destroying it. He led campaign after campaign in the streets of America and on to the governor's mansion – even to the White House – in an effort to secure change. Today, Black Americans have federal legislation which provides access and legal protection in areas of public accommodations, housing, voting rights, schools and transportation. These rights were not easily won, nor readily accepted, but the good will and conscience of an enormous spectrum of our society – both Blacks and Whites – said, "Move on."
Thank you, Dr. King, for being the drum major and man of God who was able, ready and willing to lead our nation to greater heights through love and peace.