The Autobiography of Martin Luther King: Chapters 19-20
In Birmingham, the most racially segregated city in the world, one of the most amazing things happened: desegregation began to unfold.
When King was released from jail, the SCLC began a new series of demonstrations that included children who would volunteer. While the youngsters who volunteered would also be arrested and imprisoned, many youngsters were willing to sacrifice in
order to bring change.
One young man said this to his father: “Daddy, I don't want to disobey you, but I have made my pledge. If you try to keep me home, I will sneak off. If you think I deserve to be punished for that, I'll just have to take the punishment. For, you see, I'm not doing this only because I want to be free. I'm doing it also because I want freedom for you and Mama, and I want it to come before you die.” (Pg. 207)
King and the rest of the civil right leaders soon found themselves sitting in a meeting with a community of government officials in order to come to an agreement. The agreement contained these pledges:
1. the desegregation of lunch counters, rest rooms, fitting rooms, and drinking fountains.
2. The upgrading and hiring of Negroes on a nondiscriminatory basis throughout the industrial community of Birmingham.
3. official cooperation with the movement leaders in working out the release of all jailed persons on bond or on their personal recognizance.
4. Through the Senior Citizen's Committee or Chamber of Commerce, communicate between Negro ad white to be publicly established. (Pg. 214)
As Birmingham began to be effected by the Civil Rights movement, there soon became national attention. The leaders were now planning the March on Washington, which would the largest assembly to be assembled in the United States. When referring to the March, King wrote this:
“The enormous multitude was the living, beating heart of an indefinitely nobel movement. It was an army without guns, but not without strength. It was an army into which no one had to be drafted. It was white, and Negro, and of all ages. It had adherents of every faith, members of class, every profession, every political party, united by a single idea. It was a fighting army, but no one could mistake that its most powerful weapon is love.” (Pg. 222)
It was here that King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech, which many believe changed the hearts of a nation.
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King: Chapters 15-18
After numerous arrests and bails, King and the rest of the SCLC decide to take the rest of the fight to to Birmingham, Alabama. This was a place filled with segregation and segregation supporters. King described Birmingham as a place of severe segregation and the mistreatment of the black community, which made by a large fraction of the city's total population. He concludes his description like this:
“You would be living in the largest city of a police state, presided over a governor-George Wallace- Whose inauguration vow had been a pledge of 'segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!' You would be living, in fact, in the most segregated city in America.” (Pg. 173)
One would think this statement would put fear into the hearts of those civil rights fighters, but they kept on. While preparing for the various challenges that would come with the new protests, King would inspire the volunteers with his words.
“To the ministers I stressed the need for a social gospel to supplement the gospel of individual salvation. I suggested that only a "dry as dust” religion prompts a minister to extol the glories of heaven while ignoring the social conditions that cause men an earthly hell.“ (Pg 179)
"I pleaded for the projections of strong, firm leadership by the Negro minister, pointing out that he is freer, more independent, than any other person in the community.” (Pg. 179)
“I expounded on the weary and worn "outsider” charge, which we have faced in every community where we have gone to to try to help. No Negro, in fact, no American is an outsider when he goes to any community to aide the cause of freedom and justice. No Negro anywhere, regardless of his social standing, his financial status, his prestige and position, is an outsider as long as dignity and decency are denied to the humbled black child in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.“ (Pg 179-180)
These words changed the hearts of all that heard them. It turned fear and suspicion into faith and enthusiasm. With this new found energy, another protest was planned and executed. The demonstrators faced a number of new challenges in Birmingham; one of the biggest one was dog attacks and a large number of imprisoned demonstrators.
During his time in jail in Birmingham, King read a letter that was written to him by a group of white ministers asking him to stop the demonstrations, saying that the demonstrations were too extreme and ill timed. While still in prison, King penned a response, which was later titled, "Letter from Birmingham Jail”
In this letter King reveals that he has been disappointed with the actions of the church in his fight for civil rights. He soon says this in his response:
“First, I must confess that over the past few years 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 Counciler 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 the positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in your goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.'.“ (Pg. 195)
He later goes on to say: "Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it ca be cure.” (Pg. 195)
There was plenty of things said that could get the mind's wheels spinning and to encourage the Christian to be more mindful of life's daily struggle. I believe as a body of Christian believers we should be willing to look and act as an extremist in order to ensure that God's love is seen by all people.
The Autobiography of MLK:Chapter 13-14
In this times of division of the United States, it feels as if we don't know what direction to go. We don't know who who is wrong and who is wrong. We don't know who to believe in. Too often it seems that wickedness and acts of violence run through out lives, leaving a path of destruction in it's wake.
In this time of national division we find ourselves filled with hate. People have allowed their hate to lead their actions, creating chaos in the streets and the hearts of many. At the same time, there are people showing love though these difficult times. Unfortunately, we as a society seem to dislike or forget about those individuals that act in love.
Martin Luther King wrote it this way:
"The world doesn't like people like Gandhi. That's strange, isn't it? They don't like people like Christ; they don't like people like Lincoln. They killed him-this man who had done all of that for India, who gave his life and who mobilized and galvanized 400 million people for independence......One of his own fellow Hindus felt that he was giving in too much for the Moslems.......Here was the man of nonviolence, falling at the hands of a man of hate. This seems the way of history. And isn't it significant that he died on the same day that Christ died? It was on Friday. And this is the story of history, but thank God it never stopped here." (Pg. 132)
This is very thought provoking. It is amazing to glance into history and see that those who take a true stand to change the world; to change the hearts of those who have shaped our world. It creates a fear in the hearts in those that want to do what is right.
The true beauty is the written line, "And this is the story of history, but thank God it never stopped here." While this truth reverberates throughout history, we can take solace in the fact that God is not finished with his work throughout this world. The work of God has not stopped with the fear in the hearts of the majority, it continues today, with the loving and compassionate actions of the individuals that are willing to stand for what is right.
Questions to ask:
Should we continue to fight for the rights of others with our lives on the lines? Should the fear of death hinder the courage it takes to change the world for the better?
Thoughts from Martin Luther King:
"But I do have a graduation thought to pass on to you. Whatever career you may choose for yourself-doctor, lawyer, teacher-let me propose an avocation to be pursued along with it. Become a dedicated fighter for civil rights. Make it a central part of your life.
It will make you a better doctor, a better lawyer, a better teacher. It will enrich your spirit as nothing else possibly can. It will give you that rare sense of nobility that can only spring from love and selflessly helping your fellow man. Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the nobel struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in"
This is a huge challenge! As I write these words, I want to make them a challenge to fulfill these words in my life! This challenge is not for me only, it is for my family, my friends and my students. This challenge from Martin Luther King can truly impact the world that we live in. This challenge can change the world, but only if we commit to it. Nothing will change if the supporters live out this challenge daily, with a mindful effort to live for civil rights.
This challenge is to stand for what I believe in order to benefit the world. Lord, help me to live a life for humility and love towards the people in my life!
The Autobiography Of Martin Luther King: Chapter 9-12
After a year of boycotting the bus system and organizing car pools along with walking, King along with the MIA had a series of court meeting in order to try to resolve this social issue. After a number of reviews, it was decided that the separate but equal clause was unconstitutional. The segregation issues on the buses as well as the cities were to be abolished.
With this amazing news towards progress, King quickly addressed the people; in which he said this to them:
“Now our faith seems to be vindicated. This morning the long awaited mandate from the United States Supreme Court concerning bus segregation came to Montgomery. Our experiences and growth during this past year of united nonviolent protest has been of such that we cannot be satisfied with a court "victory” over our white brothers. We must respond to the decision with an understanding of those who have oppressed us and with an appreciation of the new adjustments that the court order poses for them. We must be able to face up honestly to our own shortcomings. We must act in such a way as to make possible a coming together of white people and colored people on the basis of a real harmony of interests and understanding. We seek an integration based on mutual respect. “ (Pg. 96)
This is an amazing sentiment of growth and control. When the average person's pride would balloon up, causing humiliation and disrespect to the oppressor, King saw this as an opportunity to unite with their "white brothers” as he called them. He urged the people to turn their enemy into a friend. That is such great advice for all peoples who are searching for growth as a people.
While those who opposed to the boycotts and the changing of the laws were acting unruly and angry, what better way to retaliate then to show love and understanding to those who oppress you?
With the current progress in the country, there were many advancements. There was still a lot of racial issues that still needed to be resolved. The problem in Montgomery was merely symptomatic of the larger national problem. While the segregation problems were resolving, there were still many white southerners that were angry at the decision. Due to that fact, there was a total of ten bombings in several churches and homes. With some reflection, King wrote:
“All of these factors conjoined to cause the Negro to take a fresh look at himself. His expanding life experiences had created within him a consciousness that he was an equal element in a larger social compound and accordingly should be given rights and privileges commensurate with his new responsibilities. Once plagued with a tragic sense of inferiority resulting from the crippling effects of slavery and segregation, the Negro was driven to reevaluate himself. He had come to feel that he was somebody.” (Pg. 106)
With this realization, King and the MIA decided that they would tackle the obstacle of getting the blacks in the south to gain the right to vote as well as the action of actually voting. He thought if the blacks would have the right to vote, then they would feel and be treated as first-class citizens.
“It demonstrated to me that a climate of hatred and bitterness so permeated areas of our nation that inevitably deeds of extreme violence must erupt. I saw its wider social significance. The lack of restraint upon violence in our society along with the defiance of law by men in high places cannot but result in an atmosphere which engenders desperate deeds.” (Pg. 120)
This was a thought that King had after a mentally ill black women stabbed him at a book signing. I believe aspects of this statement is sill very relevant to the society we live in today. Too many times we allow our hatred and our bitterness to shape our actions, where we may lash out in violence towards those we should encourage and pray for.
Anthony K. Giesick
I grew up loving stories and quickly found myself loving writing poetry, stories, songs! Here is a sample of what Beautiful Feet Writings is all about!.