Fifty years ago, America was run mostly by white Protestant males and all others were to one degree or another less than fully enfranchised in many ways. We now have many examples of people from backgrounds of all races and religions and both sexes who have achieved the highest levels in our society and it is no longer a rarity, it is becoming the norm. This not only recognizes their inalienable rights as human beings guaranteed in American law but makes the fullest use of human capital, the most valuable commodity we have. For this reason, Martin Luther King is not just an African American hero but a national hero and fully deserves the national holiday of commemoration we devote to him. No other society can boast an individual who has had such a profound impact, not even India's Mahatma Ghandi when there are still 150 million untouchables in India three generations after his death. Nations with their own racial and ethnic problems which have not even recognized them let alone begun to solve them would do well to study his teachings and how those who used them in America successfully dealt with this difficult issue.(http://worldhaveyoursay.wordpress.com/2008/01/25/what-did-martin-Luther-king-do-for-African-Americans/)
By: Seam Khan
Why We Honor
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Each year a fundamental question arises. Young people especially want to know, "Why do we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? The following is a brief analysis which can be duplicated and shared with schools, churches, organizations and the media. |
Early in our country's history, almost all black people came here as slaves. Because people in the South felt they needed cheap labor in building the land and because black people in Africa knew how to farm land like that in the South, they were taken from their homes and forced to come to America. Upon arriving in this country, they were sold to whites as slaves without rights or freedoms. In 1776, the American Colonies declared their freedom from Great Britain. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote that "all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." That is, Jefferson declared that all citizens have the rights to be free from oppression and have equal opportunities in pursuing their goals. These ideals have been called the American Dream. To best achieve these ideals, the people of the United States developed their government along democratic principles in which the people choose who will lead them and decide which laws should guide them. The Constitution is a document that tells how leaders are to be chosen and how laws are to be made. The laws can be changed, usually when a majority votes to do so. However, in the new government, slaves were not given the same rights as white people. They were not given the opportunity to choose their leaders, start businesses, own homes or go to school. Slaves were not allowed to lead their lives in the ways they wanted. Yet, there were many people, mostly people in the North, who wanted the slaves to be free, but there was not a majority of the people in the country who felt that way. Some states in the North had outlawed slavery, but most blacks in the South remained slaves. Free blacks in the North had more rights than slaves, but they still did not have as many rights as white people. Freeing the slaves was a large issue in the Civil War. After that war, the slaves were finally given their freedom