Gandhi: Human Rights and Untouchables

Gandhi: Man Of Peace & His Words                      

 Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2010

Gandhi: Human Rights, Peace, Nonviolence and Untouchables

Gandhi: Human Rights and Untouchables

Untouchables are million Indians who are at the bottom of Indian society.  They do all the lowest jobs, for example they empty and clean the chamber pots and live in very poor conditions.  The upper caste Hindu Indians treat the untouchables inhumanly.  Gandhi expressed his utmost concern for this group of people.  He declared that Indians must reject the idea of untouchables.  It was too much like racial prejudice most white showed toward Indians and Africans.

Gandhi & Spinning Wheel Of Life         

Artwork by Ing-On  Vibulbhan-Watts 2010 

Gandhi’s  Words:

My fight against untouchability is a fight against impure in humanity.

Anger, lust, and such other evil passions raging in the heart are the real untouchables.

“Remember Gandhi-The Man Of His Century”          

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2000

At twenty seven years old Gandhi was practicing a philosophy of self reliance in 1897.  He set up an example by doing personal chores such as washing and ironing his own clothes.  He also studied medical literature and become a self-taught house doctor.  He even assisted in the birth of his third son, Ramdas. 

“Remember Gandhi-The Man Of His Century”          

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2000

At sixty three years old Gandhi founded a newspaper, Harijan to deal with the issue of the Untouchables in 1933.  In August 1933, he was released from jail.  He began a twelve-thousand-mile pilgrimage throughout India in November.  He traveled for nine months; his purpose was to persuade caste Hindus to give up prejudice toward Untouchables.  

“Remember Gandhi-The Man Of His Century”         

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2000

Gandhi & Ing’s Poem, Peace Comes To You                   

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2010

 

May Peace be with Mr. Rohith Vemula, his family, and all humanity.

 Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Friday, January 22, 2016

 

 Why are Indias Dalit students taking their lives?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soutik Biswas  Delhi correspondent

20 January 2016

Rohith Vemula, a PhD student at Hyderabad Central University, Killed himself on Sunday.

“My birth is my fatal accident… I always was rushing. Desperate to start a life… I am not sad. I am just empty. Unconcerned about myself. That’s pathetic. And that’s why I am doing this.”

These are excerpts from the last letter – “this kind of letter for the first time” – that Rohith Vemula, a PhD student at Hyderabad Central University wrote before he killed himself on Sunday.

It is, at once, an eloquent and chilling suicide note: a young man who loved “science, stars, nature and people”, and aspired to become a science writer like Carl Sagan, ended up defeated and crushed by discrimination and apathy.

‘Steadily isolated’

Mr Vemula, 26, was one of five Dalit – formerly known as untouchable – students who were protesting against their expulsion from the university’s housing facility. India’s 180 million Dalits are among its most wretched citizens, because of an unforgiving and cruel caste hierarchy that condemns them to the bottom of the heap.

Mr Vemula and the four other students faced allegations last August that they attacked a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) – the student wing of the governing Hindu nationalist BJP – on the campus. Some reports say an investigation had found no “conclusive evidence” of the assault.

Last year the students had also protested against the execution of Yakub Memon, the man convicted of financing the deadly 1993 Mumbai bombings and the right-wing ABVP’s stalling of a documentary film on the Muzaffarnagar riotsin Delhi University.

One newspaper said the sequence of events leading to Mr Vemula’s death shows how he was “steadily isolated by campus authorities and his appeals went largely unheard”.

The university stopped paying his monthly stipend of 25,000 rupees ($369; £258) allegedly because he raised issues under the campus’s Dalit-led students union.

It also began an investigation into his – and his friends – conduct. In August federal minister Bandaru Dattatreya, a BJP junior minister, wrote a letter to the federal education ministry complaining that the university had become a “den of casteist, extremist and anti-national politics”.

In September, Mr Vemula and four other students were suspended – although the minister denies this was linked to his missive, which he says was not about the Dalit students, but a general comment on the restive campus.

Image copyright Press Trust of India Image caption

There have been countrywide protests against Mr. Vemuli’s death.

 

Image  copyright  Facebook image Image caption

Mr. Vemula was accused of allegedly assaulting a student

Mr Vemula’s death has sparked off a firestorm of protest across India.

Poet and writer Meena Kandasamy says the student’s suicide was “not just an individual exit strategy, it is a shaming of society that has failed him or her“. She wrote “education has now become a disciplining enterprise working against Dalit students: they are constantly under threat of rustication, expulsion, defamation, discontinuation”.

Mr Vemula’s is not an exceptional story of caste discrimination on India’s campuses. One report said eight Dalit students had taken their lives “unable to cope” with caste politics at Hyderabad University in the past decade. Between 2007 and 2011 alone, 18 Dalit students ended their lives in some of India’s premier educational institutes, according to another estimate.

Shocking abuse

Some eight years ago, Apoorvanand, who teaches at Delhi University, had gone to Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India’s leading medical school, to investigate a case of discrimination against a Dalit student.

He says he found vile abuses written on the doors and walls of hostel rooms where Dalit students lived. (There was no name calling, because direct abuse would lead to prosecution under tough anti-discrimination laws.) When he went to the director of the institute to lodge a complaint, the latter flatly denied that there was caste discrimination on the campus.

This is a school which produces India’s best doctors. This is also the school where a federal investigation into complaints of caste-based harassment and discrimination against Dalit and tribal students uncovered a shocking picture of abuse.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption

Indias 180 million Dalits are among its most disprivileged citizens

The probe found most of the Dalit and tribal students complaining that they “did not receive the kind of support other students received from their teachers”. Examiners asked about their caste backgrounds. The students said teachers did not give them the marks they deserved in exams, and their papers were not evaluated properly. More than 90% of the students said they were routinely humiliated by examiners in practical and oral examinations.

“There is systemic persecution of Dalit students in Indian universities. They are often failed by their teachers deliberately,” Apoorvanand told me.

Many Dalit students who get into colleges and universities through affirmative action quotas – restorative justice for centuries of historical wrongs against the community – come to campuses with deficiencies in education, including a feeble command over the English language. Most of them are first generation graduates, come from poor families – like Mr Vemula, born of a father who works as a security guard and a mother who’s a tailor – and often struggle to fit in.

Fierce competition

India’s colleges and universities are theatres of fierce competition and confrontation: only a privileged few manage to get a limited number of seats through fiercely contested exams.

Upper caste students, say many, have a “natural hatred and antagonism” for the Dalits and tribespeople who take up seats reserved for their communities. “There is a lot of anger against affirmative action and their beneficiaries, but then there is little the upper castes can do about it because the quotas are constitutionally mandated,” says Apoorvanand.

So the students are shamed and mocked at as “quota students”, and their abilities mocked. In absence of effective student support groups or university structures, warning meltdown signals among suffering students are ignored.

Fed up with the way things were going, Mr Vemula wrote to the university authorities in December to allow him to die and even spoke about how they could help him and his Dalit friends end his life. The authorities apparently did nothing.

Politicians are accused of not confronting this appalling discrimination with the zeal it deserves.

Instead, Dalit and tribals have also become pawns in India’s hideous vote bank politics. In modern-day India, the segregation of Dalits begins early: they are separated by markers and coloured wrist bands in classrooms; and forced to clean school toilets. Upper caste school children routinely boycott school lunchescooked by Dalit cooks.

Mr Vemula is just the latest victim of India’s scourge of untouchability.

For more information please visit BBC News, Indian Section. Written by Mr. Soutik Biswas, Delhi correspondent, the link is:  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35349979

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Human Rights and Nonviolence

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have A Dream”  

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

Remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. – Human Rights and Nonviolence

Friday January 15, 2016

I did this artwork in 2010.  I enjoyed doing the research, reading Dr. King’s biography and his speeches.  Dr. King was a great writer and orator.  He could captivate the audiences with his great writing and presentation.  I would like everyone who views my artwork on Dr. King to be able to read and have some understanding of his feelings.   With his wit and energy he devoted himself to human rights and nonviolence.  It is not only his family that lost and mourned his death for the world has lost a great man.   Humanity had lost Dr. King’s ability to help bring progress to the world by achieving more civilized interaction for the human race as a whole.

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Friday, January 15, 2016 

President Barack Obama & His First Inauguration Speech Portrait and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have A Dream” two of my artworks displayed at Lincoln School auditorium for the cerebration of Dr. King’s Birthday event in 2015.

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Friday, January 15, 2016 

For more information please visit please visit the following link:

http://ingpeaceproject.com/2015/12/14/lincoln-school-the-annual-spring-concert-and-student-art-exhibition-part-3/

Martin Luther King, Jr.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Martin Luther King” and “MLK” redirect here. For other uses, see Martin Luther King (disambiguation) and MLK (disambiguation).

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Born

Michael King, Jr.
January 15, 1929
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.

Died

April 4, 1968 (aged 39)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.

Cause of death

Assassination

Monuments

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Alma mater

Occupation

clergyman, activist

Organization

Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

Movement

African-American Civil Rights Movement, Peace movement

Religion

Christianity

Denomination

Baptist (Progressive National Baptist Convention)

Spouse(s)

Coretta Scott King (m. 1953–1968; his death)

Children

Parent(s)

Awards

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.

King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president. With the SCLC, King led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia (the Albany Movement), and helped organize the 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King also helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. There, he established his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history.

On October 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. In 1965, he helped to organize the Selma to Montgomery marches, and the following year he and SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In the final years of his life, King expanded his focus to include poverty and speak against the Vietnam War, alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam“.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971, and as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington State was also renamed for him. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.

Early life and education

King’s high school alma mater was named after African-American scholar Booker T. Washington.

King was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., and Alberta Williams King.[1] King’s legal name at birth was Michael King,[2] and his father was also born Michael King, but the elder King changed his and his son’s names following a 1934 trip to Germany to attend the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin. It was during this time he chose to be called Martin Luther King in honor of the German reformer Martin Luther.[3][4] King had Irish ancestry through his paternal great-grandfather.[5][6]

King was a middle child, between an older sister, Willie Christine King, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King.[7] King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.[8] King liked singing and music. King’s mother, an accomplished organist and choir leader, took him to various churches to sing. He received attention for singing “I Want to Be More and More Like Jesus.” King later became a member of the junior choir in his church.[9]

King said his father regularly whipped him until he was fifteen and a neighbor reported hearing the elder King telling his son “he would make something of him even if he had to beat him to death.” King saw his father’s proud and unafraid protests in relation to segregation, such as Martin, Sr., refusing to listen to a traffic policeman after being referred to as “boy” or stalking out of a store with his son when being told by a shoe clerk that they would have to move to the rear to be served.[10]

When King was a child, he befriended a white boy whose father owned a business near his family’s home. When the boys were 6, they attended different schools, with King attending a segregated school for African-Americans. King then lost his friend because the child’s father no longer wanted them to play together.[11]

King suffered from depression throughout much of his life. In his adolescent years, he initially felt some resentment against whites due to the “racial humiliation” that he, his family, and his neighbors often had to endure in the segregated South.[12] At age 12, shortly after his maternal grandmother died, King blamed himself and jumped out of a second story window, but survived.[13]

King was originally skeptical of many of Christianity’s claims.[14] At the age of thirteen, he denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus during Sunday school. From this point, he stated, “doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly”.[15] However, he later concluded that the Bible has “many profound truths which one cannot escape” and decided to enter the seminary.[14]

Growing up in Atlanta, King attended Booker T. Washington High School. He became known for his public speaking ability and was part of the school’s debate team.[16] King became the youngest assistant manager of a newspaper delivery station for the Atlanta Journal in 1942 at age 13.[17] During his junior year, he won first prize in an oratorical contest sponsored by the Negro Elks Club in Dublin, Georgia. Returning home to Atlanta by bus, he and his teacher were ordered by the driver to stand so white passengers could sit down. King refused initially, but complied after his teacher informed him that he would be breaking the law if he did not go along with the order. He later characterized this incident as “the angriest I have ever been in my life”.[16] A precocious student, he skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grades of high school.[18] It was during King’s junior year that Morehouse College announced it would accept any high school juniors who could pass its entrance exam. At that time, most of the students had abandoned their studies to participate in World War II. Due to this, the school became desperate to fill in classrooms. At age 15, King passed the exam and entered Morehouse.[16] The summer before his last year at Morehouse, in 1947, an eighteen-year-old King made the choice to enter the ministry after he concluded the church offered the most assuring way to answer “an inner urge to serve humanity”. King’s “inner urge” had begun developing and he made peace with the Baptist Church, as he believed he would be a “rational” minister with sermons that were “a respectful force for ideas, even social protest.”[19]

In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a B.A. degree in sociology, and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a B.Div. degree in 1951.[20][21] King’s father fully supported his decision to continue his education. King was joined in attending Crozer by Walter McCall, a former classmate at Morehouse.[22] At Crozer, King was elected president of the student body.[23] The African-American students of Crozer for the most part conducted their social activity on Edwards Street. King was endeared to the street due to a classmate having an aunt that prepared the two collard greens, which they both relished.[24] King once called out a student for keeping beer in his room because of their shared responsibility as African-Americans to bear “the burdens of the Negro race.” For a time, he was interested in Walter Rauschenbusch‘s “social gospel”.[23] In his third year there, he became romantically involved with the daughter of an immigrant German woman working as a cook in the cafeteria. The daughter had been involved with a professor prior to her relationship with King. King had plans of marrying her, but was advised not to by friends due to the reaction an interracial relationship would spark from both blacks and whites, as well as the chances of it destroying his chances of ever pastoring a church in the South. King tearfully told a friend that he could not endure his mother’s pain over the marriage and broke the relationship off around six months later. He would continue to have lingering feelings, with one friend being quoted as saying, “He never recovered.”[23]

King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents’ house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama.[25] They became the parents of four children: Yolanda King (b. 1955), Martin Luther King III (b. 1957), Dexter Scott King (b. 1961), and Bernice King (b. 1963).[26] During their marriage, King limited Coretta’s role in the Civil Rights Movement, expecting her to be a housewife and mother.[27]

King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, when he was twenty-five years old, in 1954.[28]

Doctoral studies

See also: Martin Luther King, Jr. authorship issues

King began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Ph.D. degree on June 5, 1955, with a dissertation on “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman“. An academic inquiry concluded in October 1991 that portions of his dissertation had been plagiarized and he had acted improperly. However, “[d]espite its finding, the committee said that ‘no thought should be given to the revocation of Dr. King’s doctoral degree,’ an action that the panel said would serve no purpose.”[29][30][31] The committee also found that the dissertation still “makes an intelligent contribution to scholarship.” However, a letter is now attached to King’s dissertation in the university library, noting that numerous passages were included without the appropriate quotations and citations of sources.[32]

Ideas, influences, and political stances

Religion

As a Christian minister, King’s main influence was Jesus Christ and the Christian gospels, which he would almost always quote in his religious meetings, speeches at church, and in public discourses. King’s faith was strongly based in Jesus’ commandment of loving your neighbor as yourself, loving God above all, and loving your enemies, praying for them and blessing them. His nonviolent thought was also based in the injunction to turn the other cheek in the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus’ teaching of putting the sword back into its place (Matthew 26:52).[33] In his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, King urged action consistent with what he describes as Jesus’ “extremist” love, and also quoted numerous other Christian pacifist authors, which was very usual for him. In another sermon, he stated:

Before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the Gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office. I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher. And what I’m doing in this struggle, along with many others, grows out of my feeling that the preacher must be concerned about the whole man.

—?King, 1967[34][35]

In his speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop“, he stated that he just wanted to do God’s will.

Nonviolence

King at a Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.

Veteran African-American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin was King’s first regular advisor on nonviolence.[36] King was also advised by the white activists Harris Wofford and Glenn Smiley.[37] Rustin and Smiley came from the Christian pacifist tradition, and Wofford and Rustin both studied Gandhi‘s teachings. Rustin had applied nonviolence with the Journey of Reconciliation campaign in the 1940s,[38] and Wofford had been promoting Gandhism to Southern blacks since the early 1950s.[37] King had initially known little about Gandhi and rarely used the term “nonviolence” during his early years of activism in the early 1950s. King initially believed in and practiced self-defense, even obtaining guns in his household as a means of defense against possible attackers. The pacifists guided King by showing him the alternative of nonviolent resistance, arguing that this would be a better means to accomplish his goals of civil rights than self-defense. King then vowed to no longer personally use arms.[39][40]

In the aftermath of the boycott, King wrote Stride Toward Freedom, which included the chapter Pilgrimage to Nonviolence. King outlined his understanding of nonviolence, which seeks to win an opponent to friendship, rather than to humiliate or defeat him. The chapter draws from an address by Wofford, with Rustin and Stanley Levison also providing guidance and ghostwriting.[41]

Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi‘s success with nonviolent activism, King had “for a long time … wanted to take a trip to India”.[42] With assistance from Harris Wofford, the American Friends Service Committee, and other supporters, he was able to fund the journey in April 1959.[43] [44] The trip to India affected King, deepening his understanding of nonviolent resistance and his commitment to America’s struggle for civil rights. In a radio address made during his final evening in India, King reflected, “Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity”.

Bayard Rustin’s open homosexuality, support of democratic socialism, and his former ties to the Communist Party USA caused many white and African-American leaders to demand King distance himself from Rustin,[45] which King agreed to do.[46] However, King agreed that Rustin should be one of the main organizers of the 1963 March on Washington.[47]

King’s admiration of Gandhi’s nonviolence did not diminish in later years. He went so far as to hold up his example when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, hailing the “successful precedent” of using nonviolence “in a magnificent way by Mohandas K. Gandhi to challenge the might of the British Empire … He struggled only with the weapons of truth, soul force, non-injury and courage.”[48]

Gandhi seemed to have influenced him with certain moral principles,[49] though Gandhi himself had been influenced by The Kingdom of God Is Within You, a nonviolent classic written by Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy. In turn, both Gandhi and Martin Luther King had read Tolstoy, and King, Gandhi and Tolstoy had been strongly influenced by Jesus‘ Sermon on the Mount. King quoted Tolstoy’s War and Peace in 1959.[50]

Another influence for King’s nonviolent method was Henry David Thoreau‘s essay On Civil Disobedience, which King read in his student days. He was influenced by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system.[51] He also was greatly influenced by the works of Protestant theologians Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich,[52] as well as Walter Rauschenbusch’s Christianity and the Social Crisis. King also sometimes used the concept of “agape” (brotherly Christian love).[53] However, after 1960, he ceased employing it in his writings.[54]

Even after renouncing his personal use of guns, King had a complex relationship with the phenomenon of self-defense in the movement. He publicly discouraged it as a widespread practice, but acknowledged that it was sometimes necessary.[55] Throughout his career King was frequently protected by other civil rights activists who carried arms, such as Colonel Stone Johnson,[56] Robert Hayling, and the Deacons for Defense and Justice.[57][58]

Politics

As the leader of the SCLC, King maintained a policy of not publicly endorsing a U.S. political party or candidate: “I feel someone must remain in the position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both—not the servant or master of either.”[59] In a 1958 interview, he expressed his view that neither party was perfect, saying, “I don’t think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses … And I’m not inextricably bound to either party.”[60] King did praise Democratic Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois as being the “greatest of all senators” because of his fierce advocacy for civil rights causes over the years.[61]

King critiqued both parties’ performance on promoting racial equality:

Actually, the Negro has been betrayed by both the Republican and the Democratic party. The Democrats have betrayed him by capitulating to the whims and caprices of the Southern Dixiecrats. The Republicans have betrayed him by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of reactionary right wing northern Republicans. And this coalition of southern Dixiecrats and right wing reactionary northern Republicans defeats every bill and every move towards liberal legislation in the area of civil rights.[62]

Although King never publicly supported a political party or candidate for president, in a letter to a civil rights supporter in October 1956 he said that he was undecided as to whether he would vote for Adlai Stevenson or Dwight Eisenhower, but that “In the past I always voted the Democratic ticket.”[63] In his autobiography, King says that in 1960 he privately voted for Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy: “I felt that Kennedy would make the best president. I never came out with an endorsement. My father did, but I never made one.” King adds that he likely would have made an exception to his non-endorsement policy for a second Kennedy term, saying “Had President Kennedy lived, I would probably have endorsed him in 1964.”[64] In 1964, King urged his supporters “and all people of goodwill” to vote against Republican Senator Barry Goldwater for president, saying that his election “would be a tragedy, and certainly suicidal almost, for the nation and the world.”[65] King supported the ideals of democratic socialism, although he was reluctant to speak directly of this support due to the anti-communist sentiment being projected throughout America at the time, and the association of socialism with communism. King believed that capitalism could not adequately provide the basic necessities of many American people, particularly the African American community.[66]

Compensation

King stated that black Americans, as well as other disadvantaged Americans, should be compensated for historical wrongs. In an interview conducted for Playboy in 1965, he said that granting black Americans only equality could not realistically close the economic gap between them and whites. King said that he did not seek a full restitution of wages lost to slavery, which he believed impossible, but proposed a government compensatory program of $50 billion over ten years to all disadvantaged groups.[67]

He posited that “the money spent would be more than amply justified by the benefits that would accrue to the nation through a spectacular decline in school dropouts, family breakups, crime rates, illegitimacy, swollen relief rolls, rioting and other social evils”.[68] He presented this idea as an application of the common law regarding settlement of unpaid labor, but clarified that he felt that the money should not be spent exclusively on blacks. He stated, “It should benefit the disadvantaged of all races”.[69]

The lack of attention given to family planning

On being awarded the Planned Parenthood Federation of America‘s Margaret Sanger Award on 5th May, 1966, King said:

Recently, the press has been filled with reports of sightings of flying saucers. While we need not give credence to these stories, they allow our imagination to speculate on how visitors from outer space would judge us. I am afraid they would be stupefied at our conduct. They would observe that for death planning we spend billions to create engines and strategies for war. They would also observe that we spend millions to prevent death by disease and other causes. Finally they would observe that we spend paltry sums for population planning, even though its spontaneous growth is an urgent threat to life on our planet. Our visitors from outer space could be forgiven if they reported home that our planet is inhabited by a race of insane men whose future is bleak and uncertain.
There is no human circumstance more tragic than the persisting existence of a harmful condition for which a remedy is readily available. Family planning, to relate population to world resources, is possible, practical and necessary. Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess.
What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victims. …[70][71]

Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955

Main articles: Montgomery Bus Boycott and Jim Crow laws § Public arena

Rosa Parks with King, 1955

In March 1955, a fifteen-year-old school girl in Montgomery, Claudette Colvin, refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in compliance with Jim Crow laws, laws in the US South that enforced racial segregation. King was on the committee from the Birmingham African-American community that looked into the case; because Colvin was pregnant and unmarried, E.D. Nixon and Clifford Durr decided to wait for a better case to pursue.[72]

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat.[73] The Montgomery Bus Boycott, urged and planned by Nixon and led by King, soon followed.[74] The boycott lasted for 385 days,[75] and the situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed.[76] King was arrested during this campaign, which concluded with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses.[77][78] King’s role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement.[79]

Southern Christian Leadership Conference

In 1957, King, Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, Joseph Lowery, and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The group was created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct nonviolent protests in the service of civil rights reform. One of the group’s inspirations was the crusades of evangelist Billy Graham, who befriended King after he attended a Graham crusade in New York City in 1957.[80] King led the SCLC until his death.[81] The SCLC’s 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom was the first time King addressed a national audience.[82] Other civil rights leaders involved in the SCLC with King included: James Bevel, Allen Johnson, Curtis W. Harris, Walter E. Fauntroy, C. T. Vivian, Andrew Young, The Freedom Singers, Charles Evers, Cleveland Robinson, Randolph Blackwell, Annie Bell Robinson Devine, Charles Kenzie Steele, Alfred Daniel Williams King, Benjamin Hooks, Aaron Henry and Bayard Rustin.[83]

On September 20, 1958, while signing copies of his book Stride Toward Freedom in Blumstein’s department store in Harlem,[84] King narrowly escaped death when Izola Curry, a mentally ill black woman who believed he was conspiring against her with communists, stabbed him in the chest with a letter opener. After emergency surgery, King was hospitalized for several weeks, while Curry was found mentally incompetent to stand trial.[85][86] In 1959, he published a short book called The Measure of A Man, which contained his sermons “What is Man?” and “The Dimensions of a Complete Life”. The sermons argued for man’s need for God’s love and criticized the racial injustices of Western civilization.[87]

Harry Wachtel—who joined King’s legal advisor Clarence B. Jones in defending four ministers of the SCLC in a libel suit over a newspaper advertisement (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan)—founded a tax-exempt fund to cover the expenses of the suit and to assist the nonviolent civil rights movement through a more effective means of fundraising. This organization was named the “Gandhi Society for Human Rights”. King served as honorary president for the group. Displeased with the pace of President Kennedy’s addressing the issue of segregation, King and the Gandhi Society produced a document in 1962 calling on the President to follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln and use an Executive Order to deliver a blow for Civil Rights as a kind of Second Emancipation Proclamation – Kennedy did not execute the order.[88]

Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy with Civil Rights leaders, June 22, 1963

The FBI, under written directive from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, began tapping King’s telephone in the fall of 1963.[89] Concerned that allegations of communists in the SCLC, if made public, would derail the administration’s civil rights initiatives, Kennedy warned King to discontinue the suspect associations, and later felt compelled to issue the written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other SCLC leaders.[90] J. Edgar Hoover feared Communists were trying to infiltrate the Civil Rights movement, but when no such evidence emerged, the bureau used the incidental details caught on tape over the next five years in attempts to force King out of the preeminent leadership position.[91]

King believed that organized, nonviolent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow laws would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights. Journalistic accounts and televised footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights workers and marchers, produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion that convinced the majority of Americans that the Civil Rights Movement was the most important issue in American politics in the early 1960s.[92][93]

King organized and led marches for blacks’ right to vote, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights.[78] Most of these rights were successfully enacted into the law of the United States with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.[94][95]

King and the SCLC put into practice many of the principles of the Christian Left and applied the tactics of nonviolent protest with great success by strategically choosing the method of protest and the places in which protests were carried out. There were often dramatic stand-offs with segregationist authorities. Sometimes these confrontations turned violent.[96]

Throughout his participation in the civil rights movement, King was criticized by many groups. This included opposition by more militant blacks such as Nation of Islam member Malcolm X.[97] Stokely Carmichael was a separatist and disagreed with King’s plea for racial integration because he considered it an insult to a uniquely African-American culture.[98] Omali Yeshitela urged Africans to remember the history of violent European colonization and how power was not secured by Europeans through integration, but by violence and force.[99]

Albany Movement

Main article: Albany Movement

The Albany Movement was a desegregation coalition formed in Albany, Georgia, in November 1961. In December, King and the SCLC became involved. The movement mobilized thousands of citizens for a broad-front nonviolent attack on every aspect of segregation within the city and attracted nationwide attention. When King first visited on December 15, 1961, he “had planned to stay a day or so and return home after giving counsel.”[100] The following day he was swept up in a mass arrest of peaceful demonstrators, and he declined bail until the city made concessions. According to King, “that agreement was dishonored and violated by the city” after he left town.[100]

King returned in July 1962, and was sentenced to forty-five days in jail or a $178 fine. He chose jail. Three days into his sentence, Police Chief Laurie Pritchett discreetly arranged for King’s fine to be paid and ordered his release. “We had witnessed persons being kicked off lunch counter stools … ejected from churches … and thrown into jail … But for the first time, we witnessed being kicked out of jail.”[101] It was later acknowledged by the King Center that Billy Graham was the one who bailed King out of jail during this time.[102]

After nearly a year of intense activism with few tangible results, the movement began to deteriorate. King requested a halt to all demonstrations and a “Day of Penance” to promote nonviolence and maintain the moral high ground. Divisions within the black community and the canny, low-key response by local government defeated efforts.[103] Though the Albany effort proved a key lesson in tactics for Dr. King and the national civil rights movement,[104] the national media was highly critical of King’s role in the defeat, and the SCLC’s lack of results contributed to a growing gulf between the organization and the more radical SNCC. After Albany, King sought to choose engagements for the SCLC in which he could control the circumstances, rather than entering into pre-existing situations.[105]

Birmingham campaign

Main article: Birmingham campaign

King following his arrest in Birmingham

In April 1963, the SCLC began a campaign against racial segregation and economic injustice in Birmingham, Alabama. The campaign used nonviolent but intentionally confrontational tactics, developed in part by Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker. Black people in Birmingham, organizing with the SCLC, occupied public spaces with marches and sit-ins, openly violating laws that they considered unjust.

King’s intent was to provoke mass arrests and “create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation”.[106] However, the campaign’s early volunteers did not succeed in shutting down the city, or in drawing media attention to the police’s actions. Over the concerns of an uncertain King, SCLC strategist James Bevel changed the course of the campaign by recruiting children and young adults to join in the demonstrations.[107] Newsweek called this strategy a Children’s Crusade.[108][109]

During the protests, the Birmingham Police Department, led by Eugene “Bull” Connor, used high-pressure water jets and police dogs against protesters, including children. Footage of the police response was broadcast on national television news and dominated the nation’s attention, shocking many white Americans and consolidating black Americans behind the movement.[110] Not all of the demonstrators were peaceful, despite the avowed intentions of the SCLC. In some cases, bystanders attacked the police, who responded with force. King and the SCLC were criticized for putting children in harm’s way. But the campaign was a success: Connor lost his job, the “Jim Crow” signs came down, and public places became more open to blacks. King’s reputation improved immensely.[108]

King was arrested and jailed early in the campaign—his 13th arrest[111] out of 29.[112] From his cell, he composed the now-famous Letter from Birmingham Jail which responds to calls on the movement to pursue legal channels for social change. King argues that the crisis of racism is too urgent, and the current system too entrenched: “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”[113] He points out that the Boston Tea Party, a celebrated act of rebellion in the American colonies, was illegal civil disobedience, and that, conversely, “everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal'”.[113] King also expresses his frustration with white moderates and clergymen too timid to oppose an unjust system:

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistic-ally believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season”.[113]

St. Augustine, Florida

Main article: St. Augustine movement

In March 1964, King and the SCLC joined forces with Robert Hayling’s then-controversial movement in St. Augustine, Florida. Hayling’s group had been affiliated with the NAACP but was forced out of the organization for advocating armed self-defense alongside nonviolent tactics. Ironically, the pacifist SCLC accepted them.[114] King and the SCLC worked to bring white Northern activists to St. Augustine, including a delegation of rabbis and the 72-year-old mother of the governor of Massachusetts, all of whom were arrested.[115][116] During June, the movement marched nightly through the city, “often facing counter demonstrations by the Klan, and provoking violence that garnered national media attention.” Hundreds of the marchers were arrested and jailed. During the course of this movement, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.[117]

Selma, Alabama

Main article: Selma to Montgomery marches

In December 1964, King and the SCLC joined forces with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Selma, Alabama, where the SNCC had been working on voter registration for several months.[118] A local judge issued an injunction that barred any gathering of 3 or more people affiliated with the SNCC, SCLC, DCVL, or any of 41 named civil rights leaders. This injunction temporarily halted civil rights activity until King defied it by speaking at Brown Chapel on January 2, 1965.[119]

New York City

On February 6, 1964, King delivered the inaugural speech of a lecture series initiated at the New School called “The American Race Crisis”. No audio record of his speech has been found, but in August 2013, almost 50 years later, the school discovered an audiotape with 15 minutes of a question-and-answer session that followed King’s address. In these remarks, King referred to a conversation he had recently had with Jawaharlal Nehru in which he compared the sad condition of many African Americans to that of India’s untouchables.[120]

March on Washington, 1963

Main article: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

King, representing the SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called “Big Six” civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which took place on August 28, 1963. The other leaders and organizations comprising the Big Six were Roy Wilkins from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Whitney Young, National Urban League; A. Philip Randolph, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; John Lewis, SNCC; and James L. Farmer, Jr., of the Congress of Racial Equality.[121]

The primary logistical and strategic organizer was King’s colleague Bayard Rustin.[122] For King, this role was another which courted controversy, since he was one of the key figures who acceded to the wishes of President John F. Kennedy in changing the focus of the march.[123][124] Kennedy initially opposed the march outright, because he was concerned it would negatively impact the drive for passage of civil rights legislation. However, the organizers were firm that the march would proceed.[125] With the march going forward, the Kennedys decided it was important to work to ensure its success. President Kennedy was concerned the turnout would be less than 100,000. Therefore, he enlisted the aid of additional church leaders and the UAW union to help mobilize demonstrators for the cause.[126]

King is most famous for his “I Have a Dream” speech, given in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The march originally was conceived as an event to dramatize the desperate condition of blacks in the southern U.S. and an opportunity to place organizers’ concerns and grievances squarely before the seat of power in the nation’s capital. Organizers intended to denounce the federal government for its failure to safeguard the civil rights and physical safety of civil rights workers and blacks. However, the group acquiesced to presidential pressure and influence, and the event ultimately took on a far less strident tone.[127] As a result, some civil rights activists felt it presented an inaccurate, sanitized pageant of racial harmony; Malcolm X called it the “Farce on Washington”, and the Nation of Islam forbade its members from attending the march.[127][128]

I Have a DreamMenu0:0030-second sample from “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963


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The march did, however, make specific demands: an end to racial segregation in public schools; meaningful civil rights legislation, including a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment; protection of civil rights workers from police brutality; a $2 minimum wage for all workers; and self-government for Washington, D.C., then governed by congressional committee.[129][130][131] Despite tensions, the march was a resounding success.[132] More than a quarter of a million people of diverse ethnicities attended the event, sprawling from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial onto the National Mall and around the reflecting pool. At the time, it was the largest gathering of protesters in Washington, D.C.’s history.[132]

King delivered a 17-minute speech, later known as “I Have a Dream“. In the speech’s most famous passage—in which he departed from his prepared text, possibly at the prompting of Mahalia Jackson, who shouted behind him, “Tell them about the dream!”[133][134]—King said:[135]

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.

“I Have a Dream” came to be regarded as one of the finest speeches in the history of American oratory.[136] The March, and especially King’s speech, helped put civil rights at the top of the agenda of reformers in the United States and facilitated passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[137][138]

The original, typewritten copy of the speech, including Dr. King’s handwritten notes on it, was discovered in 1984 to be in the hands of George Raveling, the first African-American basketball coach of the University of Iowa. In 1963, Raveling, then 26, was standing near the podium, and immediately after the oration, impulsively asked King if he could have his copy of the speech. He got it.[139]

Selma Voting Rights Movement and “Bloody Sunday”, 1965

Main article: Selma to Montgomery marches

Acting on James Bevel’s call for a march from Selma to Montgomery, King, Bevel, and the SCLC, in partial collaboration with SNCC, attempted to organize the march to the state’s capital. The first attempt to march on March 7, 1965, was aborted because of mob and police violence against the demonstrators. This day has become known as Bloody Sunday, and was a major turning point in the effort to gain public support for the Civil Rights Movement. It was the clearest demonstration up to that time of the dramatic potential of King’s nonviolence strategy. King, however, was not present.[140]

The civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965

King met with officials in the Lyndon B. Johnson Administration on March 5 in order to request an injunction against any prosecution of the demonstrators. He did not attend the march due to church duties, but he later wrote, “If I had any idea that the state troopers would use the kind of brutality they did, I would have felt compelled to give up my church duties altogether to lead the line.”[141] Footage of police brutality against the protesters was broadcast extensively and aroused national public outrage.[142]

King next attempted to organize a march for March 9. The SCLC petitioned for an injunction in federal court against the State of Alabama; this was denied and the judge issued an order blocking the march until after a hearing. Nonetheless, King led marchers on March 9 to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, then held a short prayer session before turning the marchers around and asking them to disperse so as not to violate the court order. The unexpected ending of this second march aroused the surprise and anger of many within the local movement.[143] The march finally went ahead fully on March 25, 1965.[144][145] At the conclusion of the march on the steps of the state capitol, King delivered a speech that became known as “How Long, Not Long“. In it, King stated that equal rights for African Americans could not be far away, “because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”.[a][146][147]

Chicago Open Housing Movement, 1966

Main article: Chicago Freedom Movement

President Lyndon Johnson with King in 1966

In 1966, after several successes in the South, King, Bevel, and others in the civil rights organizations tried to spread the movement to the North, with Chicago as their first destination. King and Ralph Abernathy, both from the middle class, moved into a building at 1550 S. Hamlin Ave., in the slums of North Lawndale[148] on Chicago’s West Side, as an educational experience and to demonstrate their support and empathy for the poor.[149]

The SCLC formed a coalition with CCCO, Coordinating Council of Community Organizations, an organization founded by Albert Raby, and the combined organizations’ efforts were fostered under the aegis of the Chicago Freedom Movement.[150] During that spring, several white couple / black couple tests of real estate offices uncovered racial steering: discriminatory processing of housing requests by couples who were exact matches in income, background, number of children, and other attributes.[151] Several larger marches were planned and executed: in Bogan, Belmont Cragin, Jefferson Park, Evergreen Park (a suburb southwest of Chicago), Gage Park, Marquette Park, and others.[150][152][153]

Abernathy later wrote that the movement received a worse reception in Chicago than in the South. Marches, especially the one through Marquette Park on August 5, 1966, were met by thrown bottles and screaming throngs. Rioting seemed very possible.[154][155] King’s beliefs militated against his staging a violent event, and he negotiated an agreement with Mayor Richard J. Daley to cancel a march in order to avoid the violence that he feared would result.[156] King was hit by a brick during one march but continued to lead marches in the face of personal danger.[157]

When King and his allies returned to the South, they left Jesse Jackson, a seminary student who had previously joined the movement in the South, in charge of their organization.[158] Jackson continued their struggle for civil rights by organizing the Operation Breadbasket movement that targeted chain stores that did not deal fairly with blacks.[159]

Opposition to the Vietnam War

See also: Opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War

External audio

You may watch the speech, “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam”, by Martin Luther King here.

King long opposed American involvement in the Vietnam War,[160] but at first avoided the topic in public speeches in order to avoid the interference with civil rights goals that criticism of President Johnson’s policies might have created.[160] However, at the urging of SCLC’s former Director of Direct Action and now the head of the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, James Bevel,[161] King eventually agreed to publicly oppose the war as opposition was growing among the American public.[160] In an April 4, 1967, appearance at the New York City Riverside Church—exactly one year before his death—King delivered a speech titled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence“.[162] He spoke strongly against the U.S.’s role in the war, arguing that the U.S. was in Vietnam “to occupy it as an American colony”[163] and calling the U.S. government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”.[164] He also connected the war with economic injustice, arguing that the country needed serious moral change:

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.”[165]

King also opposed the Vietnam War because it took money and resources that could have been spent on social welfare at home. The United States Congress was spending more and more on the military and less and less on anti-poverty programs at the same time. He summed up this aspect by saying, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”.[165] He stated that North Vietnam “did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had arrived in the tens of thousands”,[166] and accused the U.S. of having killed a million Vietnamese, “mostly children”.[167] King also criticized American opposition to North Vietnam’s land reforms.[168]

King’s opposition cost him significant support among white allies, including President Johnson, Billy Graham,[169] union leaders and powerful publishers.[170] “The press is being stacked against me”, King said,[171] complaining of what he described as a double standard that applauded his nonviolence at home, but deplored it when applied “toward little brown Vietnamese children”.[172] Life magazine called the speech “demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi“,[165] and The Washington Post declared that King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people”.[172][173]

King speaking to an anti-Vietnam war rally at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul on April 27, 1967

The “Beyond Vietnam” speech reflected King’s evolving political advocacy in his later years, which paralleled the teachings of the progressive Highlander Research and Education Center, with which he was affiliated.[174][175] King began to speak of the need for fundamental changes in the political and economic life of the nation, and more frequently expressed his opposition to the war and his desire to see a redistribution of resources to correct racial and economic injustice.[176] He guarded his language in public to avoid being linked to communism by his enemies, but in private he sometimes spoke of his support for democratic socialism.[177][178] In a 1952 letter to Coretta Scott, he said “I imagine you already know that I am much more socialistic in my economic theory than capitalistic …”[179] In one speech, he stated that “something is wrong with capitalism” and claimed, “There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.”[180] King had read Marx while at Morehouse, but while he rejected “traditional capitalism”, he also rejected communism because of its “materialistic interpretation of history” that denied religion, its “ethical relativism”, and its “political totalitarianism”.[181]

King also stated in “Beyond Vietnam” that “true compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar … it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring”.[182] King quoted a United States official who said that, from Vietnam to Latin America, the country was “on the wrong side of a world revolution”.[182] King condemned America’s “alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America”, and said that the U.S. should support “the shirtless and barefoot people” in the Third World rather than suppressing their attempts at revolution.[182]

On April 15, 1967, King participated in and spoke at an anti-war march from New York’s Central Park to the United Nations organized by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and initiated by its chairman, James Bevel. At the U.N. King also brought up issues of civil rights and the draft.

I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both.[183]

Seeing an opportunity to unite civil rights activists and anti-war activists,[161] Bevel convinced King to become even more active in the anti-war effort.[161] Despite his growing public opposition towards the Vietnam War, King was also not fond of the hippie culture which developed from the anti-war movement.[184] In his 1967 Massey Lecture, King stated:

The importance of the hippies is not in their unconventional behavior, but in the fact that hundreds of thousands of young people, in turning to a flight from reality, are expressing a profoundly discrediting view on the society they emerge from.[184]

On January 13, 1968, the day after President Johnson’s State of the Union Address, King called for a large march on Washington against “one of history’s most cruel and senseless wars”.[185][186]

We need to make clear in this political year, to congressmen on both sides of the aisle and to the president of the United States, that we will no longer tolerate, we will no longer vote for men who continue to see the killings of Vietnamese and Americans as the best way of advancing the goals of freedom and self-determination in Southeast Asia.[185][186]

Poor People’s Campaign, 1968

Main article: Poor People’s Campaign

In 1968, King and the SCLC organized the “Poor People’s Campaign” to address issues of economic justice. King traveled the country to assemble “a multiracial army of the poor” that would march on Washington to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress created an “economic bill of rights” for poor Americans.[187][188]

The campaign was preceded by King’s final book, Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, which laid out his view of how to address social issues and poverty. King quoted from Henry George and George’s book, Progress and Poverty, particularly in support of a guaranteed basic income.[189][190][191] The campaign culminated in a march on Washington, D.C., demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the United States.

King and the SCLC called on the government to invest in rebuilding America’s cities. He felt that Congress had shown “hostility to the poor” by spending “military funds with alacrity and generosity”. He contrasted this with the situation faced by poor Americans, claiming that Congress had merely provided “poverty funds with miserliness”.[188] His vision was for change that was more revolutionary than mere reform: he cited systematic flaws of “racism, poverty, militarism and materialism”, and argued that “reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced”.[192]

The Poor People’s Campaign was controversial even within the civil rights movement. Rustin resigned from the march, stating that the goals of the campaign were too broad, that its demands were unrealizable, and that he thought that these campaigns would accelerate the backlash and repression on the poor and the black.[193]

After King’s death

The plan to set up a shantytown in Washington, D.C., was carried out soon after the April 4 assassination. Criticism of King’s plan was subdued in the wake of his death, and the SCLC received an unprecedented wave of donations for the purpose of carrying it out. The campaign officially began in Memphis, on May 2, at the hotel where King was murdered.[194]

Thousands of demonstrators arrived on the National Mall and established a camp they called “Resurrection City”. They stayed for six weeks.[195]

Assassination and aftermath

Main article: Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

 The Lorraine Motel, where King was assassinated, is now the site of the National Civil Rights Museum.

I’ve Been to the Mountaintop

 

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Final 30 seconds of “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.


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On March 29, 1968, King went to Memphis, Tennessee, in support of the black sanitary public works employees, represented by AFSCME Local 1733, who had been on strike since March 12 for higher wages and better treatment. In one incident, black street repairmen received pay for two hours when they were sent home because of bad weather, but white employees were paid for the full day.[196][197][198]

On April 3, King addressed a rally and delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address at Mason Temple, the world headquarters of the Church of God in Christ. King’s flight to Memphis had been delayed by a bomb threat against his plane.[199] In the close of the last speech of his career, in reference to the bomb threat, King said the following:

And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.[200]

King was booked in room 306 at the Lorraine Motel, owned by Walter Bailey, in Memphis. Abernathy, who was present at the assassination, testified to the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations that King and his entourage stayed at room 306 at the Lorraine Motel so often it was known as the “King-Abernathy suite”.[201] According to Jesse Jackson, who was present, King’s last words on the balcony before his assassination were spoken to musician Ben Branch, who was scheduled to perform that night at an event King was attending: “Ben, make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord‘ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.”[202]

King was shot at 6:01 p.m., April 4, 1968, as he stood on the motel’s second-floor balcony. The bullet entered through his right cheek, smashing his jaw, then traveled down his spinal cord before lodging in his shoulder.[203][204] Abernathy heard the shot from inside the motel room and ran to the balcony to find King on the floor.[205] Jackson stated after the shooting that he cradled King’s head as King lay on the balcony, but this account was disputed by other colleagues of King’s; Jackson later changed his statement to say that he had “reached out” for King.[206]

After emergency chest surgery, King died at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m.[207] According to biographer Taylor Branch, King’s autopsy revealed that though only 39 years old, he “had the heart of a 60 year old”, which Branch attributed to the stress of 13 years in the Civil Rights Movement.[208]

Aftermath

Further information: King assassination riots

The assassination led to a nationwide wave of race riots in Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Baltimore; Louisville; Kansas City; and dozens of other cities.[209][210] Presidential candidate Robert F. “Bobby” Kennedy was on his way to Indianapolis for a campaign rally when he was informed of King’s death. He gave a short speech to the gathering of supporters informing them of the tragedy and urging them to continue King’s ideal of nonviolence.[211] James Farmer, Jr., and other civil rights leaders also called for nonviolent action, while the more militant Stokely Carmichael called for a more forceful response.[212] The city of Memphis quickly settled the strike on terms favorable to the sanitation workers.[213]

President Lyndon B. Johnson declared April 7 a national day of mourning for the civil rights leader.[214] Vice President Hubert Humphrey attended King’s funeral on behalf of the President, as there were fears that Johnson’s presence might incite protests and perhaps violence.[215] At his widow’s request, King’s last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church was played at the funeral,[216] a recording of his “Drum Major” sermon, given on February 4, 1968. In that sermon, King made a request that at his funeral no mention of his awards and honors be made, but that it be said that he tried to “feed the hungry”, “clothe the naked”, “be right on the [Vietnam] war question”, and “love and serve humanity”.[217] His good friend Mahalia Jackson sang his favorite hymn, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, at the funeral.[218]

Two months after King’s death, escaped convict James Earl Ray was captured at London Heathrow Airport while trying to leave the United Kingdom on a false Canadian passport in the name of Ramon George Sneyd on his way to white-ruled Rhodesia.[219] Ray was quickly extradited to Tennessee and charged with King’s murder. He confessed to the assassination on March 10, 1969, though he recanted this confession three days later.[220] On the advice of his attorney Percy Foreman, Ray pled guilty to avoid a trial conviction and thus the possibility of receiving the death penalty. He was sentenced to a 99-year prison term.[220][221] Ray later claimed a man he met in Montreal, Quebec, with the alias “Raoul” was involved and that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy.[222][223] He spent the remainder of his life attempting, unsuccessfully, to withdraw his guilty plea and secure the trial he never had.[221]

Allegations of conspiracy

Ray’s lawyers maintained he was a scapegoat similar to the way that John F. Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is seen by conspiracy theorists.[224] Supporters of this assertion say that Ray’s confession was given under pressure and that he had been threatened with the death penalty.[221][225] They admit Ray was a thief and burglar, but claim he had no record of committing violent crimes with a weapon.[223] However, prison records in different U.S. cities have shown that he was incarcerated on numerous occasions for charges of armed robbery.[226] In a 2008 interview with CNN, Jerry Ray, the younger brother of James Earl Ray, claimed that James was smart and was sometimes able to get away with armed robbery. Jerry Ray said that he had assisted his brother on one such robbery. “I never been with nobody as bold as he is,” Jerry said. “He just walked in and put that gun on somebody, it was just like it’s an everyday thing.”[226]

Those suspecting a conspiracy in the assassination point to the two successive ballistics tests which proved that a rifle similar to Ray’s Remington Gamemaster had been the murder weapon. Those tests did not implicate Ray’s specific rifle.[221][227] Witnesses near King at the moment of his death said that the shot came from another location. They said that it came from behind thick shrubbery near the boarding house—which had been cut away in the days following the assassination—and not from the boarding house window.[228] However, Ray’s fingerprints were found on various objects (a rifle, a pair of binoculars, articles of clothing, a newspaper) that were left in the bathroom where it was determined the gunfire came from.[226] An examination of the rifle containing Ray’s fingerprints also determined that at least one shot was fired from the firearm at the time of the assassination.[226]

Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King’s sarcophagus, located on the grounds of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia

In 1997, King’s son Dexter Scott King met with Ray, and publicly supported Ray’s efforts to obtain a new trial.[229]

Two years later, Coretta Scott King, King’s widow, along with the rest of King’s family, won a wrongful death claim against Loyd Jowers and “other unknown co-conspirators”. Jowers claimed to have received $100,000 to arrange King’s assassination. The jury of six whites and six blacks found in favor of the King family, finding Jowers to be complicit in a conspiracy against King and that government agencies were party to the assassination.[230][231] William F. Pepper represented the King family in the trial.[232]

In 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice completed the investigation into Jowers’ claims but did not find evidence to support allegations about conspiracy. The investigation report recommended no further investigation unless some new reliable facts are presented.[233] A sister of Jowers admitted that he had fabricated the story so he could make $300,000 from selling the story, and she in turn corroborated his story in order to get some money to pay her income tax.[234][235]

In 2002, The New York Times reported that a church minister, Rev. Ronald Denton Wilson, claimed his father, Henry Clay Wilson—not James Earl Ray—assassinated King. He stated, “It wasn’t a racist thing; he thought Martin Luther King was connected with communism, and he wanted to get him out of the way.” Wilson provided no evidence to back up his claims.[236]

King researchers David Garrow and Gerald Posner disagreed with William F. Pepper’s claims that the government killed King.[237] In 2003, William Pepper published a book about the long investigation and trial, as well as his representation of James Earl Ray in his bid for a trial, laying out the evidence and criticizing other accounts.[238] King’s friend and colleague, James Bevel, also disputed the argument that Ray acted alone, stating, “There is no way a ten-cent white boy could develop a plan to kill a million-dollar black man.”[239] In 2004, Jesse Jackson stated:

The fact is there were saboteurs to disrupt the march. And within our own organization, we found a very key person who was on the government payroll. So infiltration within, saboteurs from without and the press attacks. … I will never believe that James Earl Ray had the motive, the money and the mobility to have done it himself. Our government was very involved in setting the stage for and I think the escape route for James Earl Ray.[240]

FBI and King’s personal life

FBI surveillance and wiretapping

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover personally ordered surveillance of King, with the intent to undermine his power as a civil rights leader.[170][241] According to the Church Committee, a 1975 investigation by the U.S. Congress, “From December 1963 until his death in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was the target of an intensive campaign by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ‘neutralize’ him as an effective civil rights leader.”[242]

The Bureau received authorization to proceed with wiretapping from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy in the fall of 1963[243] and informed President John F. Kennedy, both of whom unsuccessfully tried to persuade King to dissociate himself from Stanley Levison, a New York lawyer who had been involved with Communist Party USA.[244][245] Although Robert Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wiretapping of King’s phones “on a trial basis, for a month or so”,[246] Hoover extended the clearance so his men were “unshackled” to look for evidence in any areas of King’s life they deemed worthy.[247] The Bureau placed wiretaps on Levison’s and King’s home and office phones, and bugged King’s rooms in hotels as he traveled across the country.[244][248] In 1967, Hoover listed the SCLC as a black nationalist hate group, with the instructions: “No opportunity should be missed to exploit through counterintelligence techniques the organizational and personal conflicts of the leaderships of the groups … to insure the targeted group is disrupted, ridiculed, or discredited.”[241][249]

NSA monitoring of King’s communications

In a secret operation code-named “Minaret“, the National Security Agency (NSA) monitored the communications of leading Americans, including King, who criticized the U.S. war in Vietnam.[250] A review by the NSA itself concluded that Minaret was “disreputable if not outright illegal.”[250]

Allegations of communism

For years, Hoover had been suspicious about potential influence of communists in social movements such as labor unions and civil rights.[251] Hoover directed the FBI to track King in 1957, and the SCLC as it was established (it did not have a full-time executive director until 1960).[91] The investigations were largely superficial until 1962, when the FBI learned that one of King’s most trusted advisers was New York City lawyer Stanley Levison.[252]

The FBI feared Levison was working as an “agent of influence” over King, in spite of its own reports in 1963 that Levison had left the Party and was no longer associated in business dealings with them.[253] Another King lieutenant, Hunter Pitts O’Dell, was also linked to the Communist Party by sworn testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC).[254] However, by 1976 the FBI had acknowledged that it had not obtained any evidence that King himself or the SCLC were actually involved with any communist organizations.[242]

For his part, King adamantly denied having any connections to communism, stating in a 1965 Playboy interview that “there are as many Communists in this freedom movement as there are Eskimos in Florida”.[255] He argued that Hoover was “following the path of appeasement of political powers in the South” and that his concern for communist infiltration of the Civil Rights Movement was meant to “aid and abet the salacious claims of southern racists and the extreme right-wing elements”.[242] Hoover did not believe King’s pledge of innocence and replied by saying that King was “the most notorious liar in the country”.[256] After King gave his “I Have A Dream” speech during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, the FBI described King as “the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country”.[248] It alleged that he was “knowingly, willingly and regularly cooperating with and taking guidance from communists”.[257]

The attempt to prove that King was a communist was related to the feeling of many segregationists that blacks in the South were happy with their lot but had been stirred up by “communists” and “outside agitators”.[258] However, the 1950s and ’60s Civil Rights Movement arose from activism within the black community dating back to before World War I. King said that “the Negro revolution is a genuine revolution, born from the same womb that produces all massive social upheavals—the womb of intolerable conditions and unendurable situations.”[259]

Adultery

Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, March 26, 1964

Having concluded that King was dangerous due to communist infiltration, the FBI shifted to attempting to discredit King through revelations regarding his private life. FBI surveillance of King, some of it since made public, attempted to demonstrate that he also engaged in numerous extramarital affairs.[248] Lyndon Johnson once said that King was a “hypocritical preacher”.[260]

Ralph Abernathy stated in his 1989 autobiography And the Walls Came Tumbling Down that King had a “weakness for women”, although they “all understood and believed in the biblical prohibition against sex outside of marriage. It was just that he had a particularly difficult time with that temptation”.[261] In a later interview, Abernathy said that he only wrote the term “womanizing”, that he did not specifically say King had extramarital sex and that the infidelities King had were emotional rather than sexual.[262] Abernathy criticized the media for sensationalizing the statements he wrote about King’s affairs,[262] such as the allegation that he admitted in his book that King had a sexual affair the night before he was assassinated.[262] In his original wording, Abernathy had claimed he saw King coming out of his room with a lady when he awoke the next morning and later claimed that “he may have been in there discussing and debating and trying to get her to go along with the movement, I don’t know.”[262]

In his 1986 book Bearing the Cross, David Garrow wrote about a number of extramarital affairs, including one woman King saw almost daily. According to Garrow, “that relationship … increasingly became the emotional centerpiece of King’s life, but it did not eliminate the incidental couplings … of King’s travels.” He alleged that King explained his extramarital affairs as “a form of anxiety reduction”. Garrow asserted that King’s supposed promiscuity caused him “painful and at times overwhelming guilt”.[263] King’s wife Coretta appeared to have accepted his affairs with equanimity, saying once that “all that other business just doesn’t have a place in the very high level relationship we enjoyed.”[264] Shortly after Bearing the Cross was released, civil rights author Howell Raines gave the book a positive review but opined that Garrow’s allegations about King’s sex life were “sensational” and stated that Garrow was “amassing facts rather than analyzing them”.[265]

The FBI distributed reports regarding such affairs to the executive branch, friendly reporters, potential coalition partners and funding sources of the SCLC, and King’s family.[266] The Bureau also sent anonymous letters to King threatening to reveal information if he did not cease his civil rights work.[267] One such letter sent to King just before he received the Nobel Peace Prize read, in part:

The so-called “suicide letter”,[268] mailed anonymously by the FBI

The American public, the church organizations that have been helping—Protestants, Catholics and Jews will know you for what you are—an evil beast. So will others who have backed you. You are done. King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significant [sic]). You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy fraudulent self is bared to the nation.[269]

A tape recording of several of King’s extramarital liaisons, excerpted from FBI wiretaps, accompanied the letter.[270] King interpreted this package as an attempt to drive him to suicide,[271] although William Sullivan, head of the Domestic Intelligence Division at the time, argued that it may have only been intended to “convince Dr. King to resign from the SCLC”.[242] King refused to give in to the FBI’s threats.[248]

Judge John Lewis Smith, Jr., in 1977 ordered all known copies of the recorded audiotapes and written transcripts resulting from the FBI’s electronic surveillance of King between 1963 and 1968 to be held in the National Archives and sealed from public access until 2027.[272]

Police observation during the assassination

Across from the Lorraine Motel, next to the boarding house in which Ray was staying, was a fire station. Police officers were stationed in the fire station to keep King under surveillance.[273] Agents were watching King at the time he was shot.[274] Immediately following the shooting, officers rushed out of the station to the motel. Marrell McCollough, an undercover police officer, was the first person to administer first aid to King.[275] The antagonism between King and the FBI, the lack of an all points bulletin to find the killer, and the police presence nearby led to speculation that the FBI was involved in the assassination.[276]

Legacy

President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Among the guests behind him is Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King, Jr., statue over the west entrance of Westminster Abbey, installed in 1998

Protesters at the 2012 Republican National Convention display Dr. King’s words and image on a banner

King’s main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the U.S. Just days after King’s assassination, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.[277] Title VIII of the Act, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibited discrimination in housing and housing-related transactions on the basis of race, religion, or national origin (later expanded to include sex, familial status, and disability). This legislation was seen as a tribute to King’s struggle in his final years to combat residential discrimination in the U.S.[277]

Internationally, King’s legacy includes influences on the Black Consciousness Movement and Civil Rights Movement in South Africa.[278][279] King’s work was cited by and served as an inspiration for South African leader Albert Lutuli, who fought for racial justice in his country and was later awarded the Nobel Prize.[280] The day following King’s assassination, school teacher Jane Elliott conducted her first “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” exercise with her class of elementary school students in Riceville, Iowa. Her purpose was to help them understand King’s death as it related to racism, something they little understood as they lived in a predominantly white community.[281] King has become a national icon in the history of American liberalism and American progressivism.[282]

King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, followed in her husband’s footsteps and was active in matters of social justice and civil rights until her death in 2006. The same year that Martin Luther King was assassinated, she established the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia, dedicated to preserving his legacy and the work of championing nonviolent conflict resolution and tolerance worldwide.[283] Their son, Dexter King, serves as the center’s chairman.[284][285] Daughter Yolanda King, who died in 2007, was a motivational speaker, author and founder of Higher Ground Productions, an organization specializing in diversity training.[286]

Even within the King family, members disagree about his religious and political views about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. King’s widow Coretta said publicly that she believed her husband would have supported gay rights.[287] However, his youngest child, Bernice King, has said publicly that he would have been opposed to gay marriage.[288]

On February 4, 1968, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, in speaking about how he wished to be remembered after his death, King stated:

I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.

I want you to say that day that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.

Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind.[212][289]

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Main article: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Beginning in 1971, cities such as St. Louis, Missouri, and states established annual holidays to honor King.[290] At the White House Rose Garden on November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor King. Observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, it is called Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Following President George H. W. Bush‘s 1992 proclamation, the holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year, near the time of King’s birthday.[291][292] On January 17, 2000, for the first time, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was officially observed in all fifty U.S. states.[293] Arizona (1992), New Hampshire (1999) and Utah (2000) were the last three states to recognized the holiday. Utah previously celebrated the holiday at the same time but under the name Human Rights Day.[294]

Liturgical commemorations

King is remembered as a martyr by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America with an annual feast day on the anniversary of his death, April 4.[295] The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America commemorates King liturgically on the anniversary of his birth, January 15.[296]

UK legacy and The Martin Luther King Peace Committee

In the United Kingdom, The Northumbria and Newcastle Universities Martin Luther King Peace Committee[297] exists to honour King’s legacy, as represented by his final visit to the UK to receive an honorary degree from Newcastle University in 1967.[298] The Peace Committee operates out of the chaplaincies of the city’s two universities, Northumbria and Newcastle, both of which remain centres for the study of Martin Luther King and the US Civil Rights Movement. Inspired by King’s vision, it undertakes a range of activities across the UK as it seeks to “build cultures of peace.”

Awards and recognition

Martin Luther King, Jr., showing his medallion received from Mayor Wagner

Statue of King in Birmingham’s Kelly Ingram Park

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where King ministered, was renamed Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in 1978.

King was awarded at least fifty honorary degrees from colleges and universities.[299] On October 14, 1964, King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to him for leading nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in the U.S.[300] In 1965, he was awarded the American Liberties Medallion by the American Jewish Committee for his “exceptional advancement of the principles of human liberty”.[299][301] In his acceptance remarks, King said, “Freedom is one thing. You have it all or you are not free.”[302]

In 1957, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.[303] Two years later, he won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for his book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story.[304] In 1966, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America awarded King the Margaret Sanger Award for “his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity”.[305] Also in 1966, King was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[306] In November 1967 he made a 24 hour trip to the United Kingdom to receive an honorary degree from Newcastle University, being the first African American to be so honoured by Newcastle.[307] In a moving impromptu acceptance speech,[308] he said

There are three urgent and indeed great problems that we face not only in the United States of America but all over the world today. That is the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war.

In 1971 he was posthumously awarded a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for his Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam.[309]

In 1977, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was posthumously awarded to King by President Jimmy Carter. The citation read:

Martin Luther King, Jr., was the conscience of his generation. He gazed upon the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to fulfill the promises of our founding fathers for our humblest citizens, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream for America. He made our nation stronger because he made it better. His dream sustains us yet.[310]

King and his wife were also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.[311]

King was second in Gallup’s List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century.[312] In 1963, he was named Time Person of the Year, and in 2000, he was voted sixth in an online “Person of the Century” poll by the same magazine.[313] King placed third in the Greatest American contest conducted by the Discovery Channel and AOL.[314]

Memorials and eponymous places and buildings

Martin Luther King Jr. Street at Liberty Bell Park in Jerusalem, Israel

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Yerba Buena Gardens

There are numerous memorials to King in the United States, including:

Numerous other memorials honor him around the world, including:

  • This page was last modified on 14 January 2016, at 20:51.

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Gandhi: Peace and Nonviolence for the World

Gandhi: Peace and Nonviolence for the World

Sixteen years ago I wrote a book entitled “Remember Gandhi-The Man Of His Century” and the following is the beginning portion of my introduction:

“When I was young in Thailand, in early grade school we read a book about a man named Gandhi who was born in India.  He was married at age thirteen.  As a young man, Gandhi went to study in Britain and became a layer.  He went to work in South Africa where he experienced discrimination.  Because of this he devoted himself to fight for human equality.  The lessons learned in this fight were carried with him to India where he led his country to freedom from British colonial rule thereby creating an independent Indian country.

I was very impressed with Mr. Gandhi’s fight for human rights.  He helped his country gain independence from the British by nonviolent means without using weapons to achieve his goal.”                                                       

“NONVIOLENCE”, is a word that seems to have no meaning for a lot of countries around the world.  It hurts so much to see the pictures of starving children and adults in Syria.  What are you doing Syrian leaders?  Both sides of Syrian political divide, the government and the opposition use the same tactics trying to win over the other side by cut off the food supply to the villages of their opponents.  The pictures of these starving children and adult Syrians reminds me of pictures of Jewish people liberated from the concentration camps of Nazi Germany by American soldiers.   Why are you so cruel?  Do you all have hearts and feeling as decent human beings?   Please!!! Please!!!———A million times please, I beg you on of both sides.  Please stop fighting!!!  Do you know what happiness is? Please have a peace talks.  Both of your sides have destroyed so much.  Your country is in ruins.  Civilians work hard, only to have you buy weapons to kill them and ruin their livelihood.  Both of your sides are not good leaders for your country.  If you cannot make the country more prosperous and bring happiness to your citizens, what good is it to be leaders of your country?  Please do not let your greediness rule over humanity.  We all will be dead someday sooner or later, and history will record whatever you did.  But you do not die yet; you still have a chance to make things better than the past.  Please have peace talks and remember how Gandhi gained independence for his country by nonviolent means.  

I produced 40 artworks for the book.  The following pictures are four of my artworks of Gandhi that I used for the front and back covers of my book respectively.  Two more are from the inside of the book:

Gandhi: Man Of Peace & Nonviolence 1       

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2000 

Gandhi: Man Of Peace & Nonviolence 2         

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2000 

Gandhi: Man Of Peace & Nonviolence 3                          

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2000 

Gandhi: Man Of Peace & Nonviolence 4                         

 Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts 2000 

I also did more artworks on the subject of Gandhi in 2010 that is shown below.

Gandhi: Man Of Peace & His Words                         

 Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2010

Gandhi & Spinning Wheel Of Life         

Artwork by Ing-On  Vibulbhan-Watts 2010

Gandhi & Ing’s Poem, Peace Comes To You                   

Artwork by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  2010

I was very thankful and glad to find an article from the BBC News on, “Rare pictures of the last 10 years of Gandhi’s life”.  These are shown below:

Rare pictures of the last 10 years of Gandhi’s life

 

Soutik Biswas Delhi correspondent

Here’s an anxious-looking Mahatma Gandhi making a telephone call from his office in Sevagram village in the western state of Maharashtra in 1938.

India’s greatest leader had moved to a village called Segaon two years earlier. He had renamed it Sevagram or a village of service. He built an ashram, a commune which was home to “many a fateful decision which affected the destiny of India”. Gandhi had moved in with his wife, Kasturba, and some followers. There was also a steady stream of guests.

Kanu Gandhi, a callow young man in his 20s and a grand nephew of the Mahatma, was also there. Armed with a Rolleiflex camera, he was taking pictures of the leader.

He had wanted to become a doctor, but his parents had goaded him to join Gandhi’s personal staff doing clerical work, looking after accounts and writing letters at the ashram.

Kanu Gandhi had developed an interest in photography, but Gandhi had told him there was no money to buy him a camera.

The nephew did not relent. Finally, Gandhi asked businessman Ghanshyam Das Birla to gift 100 rupees ($1.49; £1.00) to Kanu so that he could buy the camera and a roll of film.

But the leader imposed three conditions on the photographer: he forbade him from using flash and asking him to pose; and made it clear that the ashram would not pay for his photography.

Kanu made do with a stipend from a Gandhi acolyte who liked his work. He also began selling his pictures to newspapers.

Over the years and until Gandhi’s assassination in 1948, Kanu Gandhi shot some 2,000 pictures of the greatest leader of the Indian Independence movement. For decades, his pictures remained in obscurity, once surfacing with a German researcher who began compiling and selling them.

Now, 92 of those rare pictures of Gandhi during the last decade of his life have been published in an exquisitely produced cloth-bound monograph by the Delhi-based Nazar Foundation, a non-profit trust founded by two of India’s most well-known photographers Prashant Panjiar and Dinesh Khanna.

This is possibly my most favourite image from the book. Here Gandhi is standing on a weighing scale at the Birla House in Bombay (what is now Mumbai) in 1945.

For a man who undertook more than a dozen fasts during the freedom movement as a part of his non-violent protests – to bring peace, demand Muslim rights or to shame rioting mobs – the picture is telling.

“This is a picture of a man keeping an eye on his weight, testing himself all the time. It tells you a lot about the man,” says leading photographer Sanjeev Saith who went through more than 1,000 images and helped curate the monograph.

Here, Gandhi is seen in front of his office hut at Sevagram ashram in 1940. A pillow covers his head as protection against the severe heat.

It is, at once, an intimate and remote image.

Which is one of the reasons, many say, that made Kanu Gandhi’s pictures of the Mahatma so special.

“Although he had incredible access to the icon, we are always struck at the way Kanu, perhaps because he was in awe of Gandhi always kept a respectful distance, and yet managed to convey a sense of intimacy and proximity,” says Panjiar.

“And because he kept a certain distance, Kanu intuitively found a more modern language of photography than what was prevalent in those times in India, framing many of his images with an interesting and unconventional use of the foreground, breaking many of the accepted rules of composition”.

Kanu Gandhi travelled far and wide with the leader.

Here’s his image of a van carrying Gandhi being pushed by Pathans and Congress workers over some rough terrain in the North West Frontier Provinces in October 1938.

This is a picture of Gandhi, and his wife Kasturba, in Abottabad in November, 1938.

Kanu Gandhi’s first-ever book of photographs chronicles the leader’s political and personal journey in his last decade in vivid detail. There are pictures of Gandhi in his many moods – brooding, joyous, pensive, grieving – and with his supporters.

Here Gandhi is being massaged by a relative and his elder sister Raliatbehn during a three-day fast in Gujarat’s Rajkot city in March 1939.

“These images may be old, but they are not old-fashioned. They are not straightforward, beautifully shot and carefully framed, neat pictures which were popular then,” says Panjiar.

“It possibly helped that Kanu was not a trained photographer because many of his images would have been rejected by his contemporaries on account of being blurred, slightly out of focus or double exposed. But these find pride of place, lovingly pasted by own hands in albums.”

Gandhi and his wife Kasturba are seen here at a wedding of a Christian man and an untouchable woman in Sevagram ashram, 1940.

Sanjeev Saith says the picture of a dying Kasturba Gandhi lying on a bed at the Aga Khan Palace in Pune in 1944 a few months before her death counts among his favourites. A broken shaft of light is streaming in through a window behind her.

“Here is this austere woman lying regally on this stately bed, she is about to die. This picture just shakes me up,” he says.

And then there is this historic 1938 picture of Gandhi in a convivial mood with freedom hero and radical nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose. In the background, Kasturba Gandhi is drawing her sari, and looking into the distance.

This was the high noon of Bose’s political life: he had been elected as president of the Congress party. Gandhi had overruled objections from independence hero Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who had objected to Bose’s appointment.

The two leaders had shared a complex relationship and fell out later over differences.

“This is an amazing picture,” says Saith. “It contains two of India’s greatest heroes in one frame. Bose is young, cherubic, almost looking at Gandhi in admiration. Gandhi has his characteristic toothless grin. It is a nice, warm moment.”

Here’s Gandhi and Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, in February 1940, a study of two great men in meditation.

“Look at the bottom of the picture. It is an accidental double exposure [a technique which combined two different images into a single image]. It’s rather inventive. Kanu Gandhi knew it was a good picture, and he didn’t throw away the negative,” says Saith.

There’s a series of pictures of Gandhi collecting donations for a fund for the untouchables during a three-month long train journey that took him to Bengal, Assam and southern India in 1945-46.

In some he’s stretching his arm from a carriage for money; in others he’s surrounded by people and collecting the money in a slender basket.

“He’s an old man, but he looks agile. He’s almost begging for alms, and he’s serious about picking up every bit of money for a good cause. He understands money,” says Saith.

“I am a bania and there is no limit to my greed,” Gandhi once said, alluding to his Indian caste comprising mainly of moneylenders.

Being the only person who was allowed to take Gandhi’s photographs at any time, Kanu Gandhi was shooting every day.

Sometimes Gandhi intervened: one such moment was when Kasturba, lay dying in his lap at the Aga Khan Palace in Pune.

The nephew, however, was allowed to shoot this image of the leader, draped in a shawl, looking at Kasturba after she passed away in February 1944.

According to several accounts, Gandhi kept a vigil for hours, sitting by her side, praying.

“After sixty years of constant companionship,” he said later that night. “I cannot imagine life without her.”

Ironically, for a man who followed Gandhi like a shadow, Kanu Gandhi was away in Noakhali in east Bengal when his leader was killed in 1948.

“Gandhi’s death had a profound effect on Kanu and his wife, Abha’s life. For Kanu, photography was no longer as important as the need to convey his leader’s message,” says Panjiar.

Kanu Gandhi died after a heart attack while on a pilgrimage in northern India in February 1986.

Photographs by Kanu Gandhi/© Gita Mehta, heir of Abha and Kanu Gandhi.

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-35259671

The Following are some pictures, information and links on The Destruction of Syria.

KOBANE, Syria — A heap of dust is all that remains of the house where Alan Kurdi was born and raised, before war sent his family fleeing and he drowned on the short sea crossing between Turkey and Greece.

The image of the toddler’s lifeless body washed up on a Turkish beach turned him into an instant symbol of the suffering of Syrians so desperate to reach Europe that they are prepared to risk their lives making the dangerous journey.

His flattened home, destroyed in an American airstrike in the landmark battle for control of the Syrian town of Kobane last year, has not been so widely seen. It is just one of thousands of buildings leveled, among hundreds of thousands more that have been obliterated in Syria during the four-year-old war.

As the conflict drags into a fifth year with no end in sight, little heed is being paid to the enormity of the havoc being wreaked on the country. Some 2.1 million homes, half the country’s hospitals and more than 7,000 schools have been destroyed, according to the United Nations.

The cost of the damage so far is estimated at a staggering $270 billion — and rebuilding could run to more than $300 billion, according to Abdallah al-Dardari, a former Syrian government minister who heads the National Agenda for Syria program at the U.N.’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia. That’s more than 10 times the amount spent by the United States on reconstruction in Iraq, with few discernible results.

 

   When a Turkish soldier picked up the body of Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi in September, it became an instant symbol of Syrian refugees’ suffering and desperation. Alan was the son of Abdullah Kurdi, a native of Kobane, who lost his wife and two sons when their dinghy sank off the coast of Turkey. | Graves hold the remains of Kurdi’s family members.

If or when the war ends, any government will find itself “ruling over a pile of rubble,” Dardari said. “I don’t know who will fund this.”

The immense human toll is a far more immediate and obvious concern. As many as 250,000 people are dead, 1 million have been wounded, 7.6 million are displaced within Syria and 4 million have fled across the borders, according to the U.N.

[As tragedies shock Europe, a bigger refugee crisis looms in the Middle East]

The numbers rise daily with each new airstrike and each new offensive launched, as Russian planes join Syrian and American ones in bombing the country and the various factions sustain their relentless attacks on one another with rockets, mortars and artillery.

So, too, does the damage, compounding the tragedy in small and unseen ways that also kill people or drive them to seek new lives elsewhere. The more buildings are flattened, the more homes, shops and businesses are lost, the greater the incentive to flee the country — and the less people will have to return to whenever the war finally ends.

“We’re allowing a level of destruction we will never have the means to address,” said Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group. “They’re wiping one city after another off the map.”

Kobane stands as a small reminder of how much is being lost.

 Abdullah Kurdi had fled to Turkey to work, but he chose to make the dangerous trip to Greece because he didn’t make enough money to live in Istanbul. His home was leveled in the battle for Kobane.

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/world/2015/11/13/kobane/

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.newsweek.com/2015/08/28/syria-war-bombing-aleppo-364035.html

Horror of the starving Syrians cut off from the world: People living in three towns under siege from Assad forces and rebels are forced to eat cats, dogs and grass as food supplies are unable to reach them

  • Madaya near Damascus has been under siege by Assad’s troops since July
  • Activists say desperate residents have resorted to eating domestic animals
  • Some have been killed by snipers or landmines while scavenging for food
  • Foua and Kfarya have been under attack from rebels for more than a year
  • Victims also forced to have surgery without anesthetic due to lack of drugs
  • See full news coverage on Syria at www.dailymail.co.uk/syria 

By Simon Tomlinson for MailOnline

Published: 08:00 EST, 7 January 2016 | Updated: 06:33 EST, 8 January 2016

   For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3388505/Starving-survivors-trapped-Syrian-towns-siege-Assad-forces-rebels-forced-eat-cats-dogs-grass-food-supplies-cut-aid-groups-warn.html

  For more information please visit the following link:

http://qz.com/589222/horrifying-images-of-starving-syrians-are-bringing-the-war-back-into-focus/

For more information please visit the following link:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/besieged-madaya-syria-residents-describe-starvation-heartbreaking-conditions/story?id=36233172

Destruction: Parts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo have been destroyed during the bitter civil war. The aftermath of a separate assault by the Syrian regime on the city is pictured

For more information please visit the following link:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2315102/Syrian-government-using-chemical-weapons-people-crosses-red-line-Britain-David-Cameron-warns.html

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Happy New Year from John and Ing in our Sculpture Garden

Happy New Year from John and Ing in our Sculpture Garden

Friday, January 1, 2016

Downtown Newark, New Jersey,

🙂 🙂 🙂 Happy New Year Everyone 🙂 🙂 🙂

I enjoyed cultivating our garden and John enjoyed producing his sculptures.  We produced our Sculpture Garden for ourselves and hope that the others will enjoy it also.

From spring to fall our garden was full of flower blossoms and buzzing with bees, Swallowtail, Monarchs and Red admiral butterflies.  They were drinking nectar from the flowers while John and I were busy with our garden. 

We hope that our first grandson Kai, who is 3 months old now, will be able to see what his grandpa and grandma were doing when he is old enough to understand. 

We are quite satisfied and happy with the result of our Sculpture Garden last year, 2015.  We would like to share some of the scenery of our garden that John and I captured all year round.

May Peace and Happiness be with all of us for 2016 and always.

John lays cement blocks building patio for his sculptures in our backyard garden.

May 2015:  John is laying a brick floor in some area of the garden.

Lays the Basic Foundation to be Better and Firm

Brick by brick he lays

One’s foundation of love

Love to make a basic ground for better and firm

Love to use two hands and brain to create

From a lump of clay

Forming certain shapes

Love to put thought

And experience into creating

Sculpture to be born

 

Love to explore and share

What one does

 

The love of nature

And love of fellow mankind

Keeps us alive and well

 

Let love dominate the world

Let us be calm and peaceful

Let us lay a basic foundation

Brick by brick

To be better and firm

 

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Wednesday, January 06, 2016, 4:07 pm

My first poem for this year, 2016

John cut cement blocks building patio for his sculptures in our backyard garden.

John is cleaning the wall.

August 2015:  John assembling his new sculpture.

Top left:  Cutting an iron pole for the sculpture

Right:  Calculating the length of each section

Ing’s sculpture, Tower of Freedom

This is another one of my sculptures.  John insists on having my two sculptures in our garden.

I love taking photos in the garden and enjoy seeing my flower blooms.  I like to sneak taking pictures of John when he is working in the garden.  Once I caught myself taking photo with flowers in the reflection of the entrance door to the house.

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October 2015:  John and I received very sad news from a friend, Arthur Rogoff, who told us that Steve Mace, one of John pottery students and a friend, passed away.  John and I went to a remembrance gathering at Steve’s family home.  His wife said that before Steve passed away he said that he wanted to give John the above sculpture. 

John made the sculpture in 1980 and Steve exchanged an early version of a camcorder for this sculpture from John.  We are very appreciative for the gift of this sculpture from Steve.  Steve was a very kind and generous person.  Every time John had gathering for the pottery students each year, Steve would bring his home made special bread filled with sausage, cheese, pepper, onion and other ingredients that tasted delicious.  He also brought other items for the occasions.  I wish to dedicate this project to Steve Mace who we all miss and we will always think of fondly for the rest of our lives.   

The top part of sculpture was broken in the process of transportation from Steve house to our backyard sculptures garden.  John had to repair it.

Earlier in 2015, John laid a cement block patio for his sculptures in our backyard garden.  By adding the gift from Steve this makes it more meaningful and sentimental.  We will always think of him every time we are present in our sculpture garden.

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