By L. Cunningham, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 16, 2020
Martin Luther King Memorial, “Out of the Mountain of Despair” in the background, a “Stone of Hope”. The 30 foot sculpture of Dr. Martin Luther King, a social activist, civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Dr. King is the first African American to be honored at the National Mall. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)
“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 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.”
Famous words spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his “I Have a Dream” speech given in August 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.
Dr. King was a Baptist minister, turned social activist and civil rights leader who called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism. In 1964, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35 for his work for civil rights and social justice. When first selected, he said the $54,123 prize would be given to further continue the civil rights movement.
“All that I have said boils down to the point of affirming that mankind’s survival is dependent upon man’s ability to solve the problems of racial injustice, poverty, and war: the solution of these problems is in turn dependent upon man squaring his moral progress with his scientific progress, and learning the practical art of living in harmony,” said King as part of his acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway.
Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 39. He was to have led a protest march the next day in sympathy with garbage workers on strike.
Twenty-three years later in January 1986, this nation commenced the celebration Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who strove for freedom, justice and equality amongst all the people of this nation.
In August 2011, a monument inspired by his “I Have a Dream” speech was unveiled in West Potomac Park, Washington D.C.. Dr. King was the first African American to be honored at the National Mall.
King had a pivotal role in ending legal segregation of African-American citizens and prompting the creation of the civil rights act of 1964 and the voting acts right of 1964.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day to remember and commemorate a man who inspired this country to be better people and a better nation.
“Just as Dr. King’s cause was freedom for those without it, the 100 fold of those who serve in the U.S. military is also freedom. Freedom not just for themselves, their family and those they love, but freedom for an entire nation,” said retired Air Force Brigadier General Toreaser Steele as she spoke at past King commemorative luncheon at Offutt Air Force Base.
We continue this struggle to be better people every day. Some of us are still inspired by Dr. King’s message, his speeches, books and dreams, that one day, no matter what the color of your skin is, the fight for justice and equality will succeed.