MLK Day: the Lessons of Pacifism & the Civil Rights Movement

The Red Phoenix

MLK National Mall

Today is the celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the United States. While it is ostensibly celebrated to promote the Civil Rights Movement, one wonders why MLK, among all other more active and progressive civil rights leaders, was chosen to receive a federal holiday. The answer lies in history: Martin Luther King Jr. would not have been successful in his bid for civil rights for black people if groups like the Black Panthers and individuals such as Malcolm X did not remind America of the alternative of pacifism.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy has been one of two strong messages which are spread on this holiday: a message of anti-racism and the preaching of nonviolence. One famous quote says that nonviolence “is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” Another says…

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