Today we honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Dr. King used peace instead of violence and love instead of hate to evangelize for a better world. He and hundreds of thousands of others fought for civil rights, eventually inspiring the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The demonstrations he helped coordinate include the Montgomery Bus Boycott, numerous sit-ins, and the March on Washington, where he delivered the famous and poignant “I Have a Dream” speech.
In thinking about the day, Patrick Yates, manager – Diversity & Inclusion, shared his thoughts below:
“Dr. King’s work and passion driving toward racial harmony and equality remains unmatched. As a nation we still seek to come together in unity, while celebrating those things that make us different. The passing of the 13th Amendment, ending of the Civil War, the Era of Reconstruction, and the repeal of Jim Crow laws all fed into a time that fueled Dr. King to challenge the world and the status quo to rise above color lines. He recognized the moment, the opportunity, and the right-time to call on humanity to give equity, goodness, kindness, and reverence to their fellow man/woman. Today, 52 years after his death, this still must remain the highest priority as our country and communities change. Even in death, Dr. King drew high ranking dignitaries of all races and political aspects together. What will each of us do to seize this moment, in our own personal areas of influence, to unite our country and communities together, and reflect Dr. King’s values?
To celebrate and honor Dr. King’s life and legacy, consider taking action! Here are three things you could do today:
- Talk about Dr. King at dinner tonight. Speak with your family and friends about Dr. King’s message. Discuss what resonates with you and why.
- Read his speech aloud or watch it on YouTube. If you have young children, read an abbreviated version of it.
- Incorporate more art into your life that is produced by, or is about, people of color and their stories.
The following books are an excellent place to start.
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
- Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
- A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
- Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
- The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
If you are a more visual learner, Patrick recommends the following films:
King in the Wilderness
A portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. during the last years of his life, from his part in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to his assassination in 1968.
After graduating from Harvard, Bryan Stevenson heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned or those not afforded proper representation. One of his first cases is that of Walter McMillian, who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite evidence proving his innocence. In the years that follow, Stevenson encounters racism and legal and political maneuverings as he tirelessly fights for McMillian’s life.
The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history.
This is a 2016 historical drama written and directed by Jeff Nichols. It features Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga as Richard and Mildred Loving, the plaintiffs in the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll and Michael Shannon also star.
13th is a 2016 documentary by director Ava DuVernay. Focusing on race in the United States criminal justice system, the film is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlawed slavery. DuVernay’s documentary argues that slavery is being effectively perpetuated through mass incarceration.
This 2016 American biographical drama was directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder. It is based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine G. Johnson, the African-American mathematician who participated in calculating flight trajectories for Project Mercury and the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon.
By Michael Wanta, TDS Brand Journalist