I would like to present to you a role-model; an extraordinary man; an icon; a legend who lived a rather short life – only 39 years; but which was a rich, great and enriching life. Born on the 15th of January, 1929, he made an immense achievement during his short span of life, using every ounce of his energy to fight tirelessly for the liberation and emancipation of his people.
He believed in peace
This extraordinary man believed in peace as an instrument for the achievement of set goals; and it earned for him the title of ‘Apostle of Non-violence’. He was, indeed, a real champion of non-violence. Where there was hatred, animosity and suspicion, he called for love. Where some wanted violent protests and demonstrations, he led peaceful ones. Where people wanted to destroy, he built.
He had a dream
He had a dream for which he lived and worked. It was a dream that consumed all his energy; all his thought; all his heart and might; and eventually his whole life. This lofty dream was contained in a timeless, legendary address, ‘I have a dream’ which he made to his people and the world; and which fired up his whole nation, to begin to look more closely at what he stood for, fought for and finally died for.
The phenomenal dream of this rare figure was to see blacks and whites live together and walk hand in hand like one and the same people bound by love, understanding and solidarity. This dream is a reality today.
Martin Luther King,Jr.
This legend is called Martin Luther King. He is a great man whose greatness has been recognized not only by his fellow country men but also by the entire human race. He is hailed for what he lived for and achieved both for his country and the world. That is why, in November 1983, another hero of the American people, President Ronald Reagan signed a law making the third Monday of every January Martin Luther King Day.
Nobel Peace Prize
Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 14, 1964 for his non-violent approach in the cause for which he fought.
Today, the whole world celebrates the life and works of Martin Luther King. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of freedom as well as the Congressional Gold Medal. Many streets in the U.S were renamed in his honor. In 2011, a memorial statue in the National Mall was opened to the public.
He had enemies
Yet, despite his great works, not all his people liked him when he lived; neither did they like the cause for which he fought. Not all his people liked his stand for peace. His peaceful approach to the struggle earned for him enemies from his own very camp. His struggle for the liberation and emancipation of his people drew animosity and opposition from racists leading to his untimely and tragic death on April 4th 1968 when he was brutally assassinated in Memphis.
Although Martin Luther King left this world long before his dream came true, behind him remains his great works. His ideas live forever. America and the world are better today because he lived. Americans enjoy an America void of racism and racial discrimination today, to a great extent, because he lived and dedicated his life not to fight for his own place in his society, not to amass wealth, and be ranked among the richest men of the world, but to fight for others, to fight for a cause bigger than himself; to benefit people he never knew; never hoped to meet anywhere; and more people than he could imagine.
Lessons to humanity
We learn many lessons from this great man
- They way to be great is to fight not for self but for others.
- We do not need violence to get what is ours by right.
- Love and peace are more powerful than hatred and violence.
- A journey of one thousand miles begins with a step.
- When we dedicate our lives to a just cause we reap the fruits.
The lessons, indeed, are too many to be enumerated here
He also left stirring, touching and inspiring words that will continue to touch and shape hearts and minds for a long time to come. Here are some for you.
- “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
- “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
- “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend,”
- “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
- “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”
- “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,”
- “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”
- “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others.”
- “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
- “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”
- “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”The challenge
You may be one of the millions of people around the world who admire this extraordinary man. His selflessness, his love for fellow-man and his great and magnanimous mind have immortalized him.
What of you? What shall you be remembered for? What shall be said about you when you pass on to eternity?