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Friday, 04 April 2008


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Michael, your post made me realize I was born into a world with the benefits of King's work built-in. I was in my mother's womb when he passed, due to enter the world a few months later.

Especially poignant for me as my mother passed away only a few long weeks ago.

Seems every once in a while the world is gifted with saints like the ones you've mentioned. And sadly they tend to be persecuted, die young and then as a final insult their messages often get twisted, even to the point of condoning violence by a second generation of followers. History repeats itself.


One of my favorite photobloggers had another interesting quote to mark today. See: http://notraces.com/2008/04/post_2.php

Best regards,

One of Martin Luther King's great speeches, a speech given on April 4, 1967, was his 'Beyond Vietnam' speech, a speech equal in my opinion to his 'I Have a Dream' speech.

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." Martin Luther King

Excellent entry.

"Human beings as a whole deplore nonviolence; the human race can abide almost anything, but it cannot abide peacemakers."
A very sad state of affairs and those who deplore nonviolence are committing blasphemy against Darwin - yes there are plenty of characteristics that set us further up the evolutionary ladder than other animals but what a disgrace that we have not evolved past antagonism towards our fellow humans.
Bravo to you Mike for so often championing those photographers who document human folly.

Cheers, Robin

Dr. King's work is far from finished. Let's hope that, at least in the US, this November marks a new beginning in the continuation of that work . . . for peace as well as for racial justice and equality.

Thanks for this post.

Should also be noted that in that photograph, they're pointing at where the gunfire originated, which was not the location where James Earl Ray was situated; and that the response at FBI headquarters to the news of King's assassination was... applause.

WNYC's Leonard Lopate was talking to photographer Bob Adelman about MLK this afternoon. They talked about Adelman's experience photographing the Civil Rights movement in addition to MLK and his legacy.

You can listen to the segment at WNYC.org. Full link: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/episodes/2008/04/04

Thank you for the article. To think that I have had the opportunity to live in an age when great people have done great things... well... it's humbling, actually...

I was 10 and I remember it as if it were yesterday. Then Bobby was killed a couple of months later and that was that.

One striking comment you made referred to the distaste we have for nonviolence. It is a sad but true statement that all these nonviolent movements have been corrupted by those who seek a faster path or by those who have too much to lose.

Perhaps a sadder fact though is that we do not have a term, in English or any other language that I know of, for nonviolence that isn't the negation of violence. How different would the world be if it was the other way around.

My thoughts as I read King's speech and the commentary here led to the quote linked below about how all evil needs to win is for good people to do nothing.

King did something. If only more good people would inspire themselves to do something, maybe we would lead ourselves into something as a species that transformed violence, hate and injustice into something better.


I was kid when he was assassinated and I don't think I completely understood the significance of his life or death at the time even though I came to feel that his contribution to fixing an issue that had been poisoning this nation since it's inception was immeasurable.

40 years later, looking back, I suddenly found it astounding and almost unbearably sad that when he began his journey he was swimming against the tide of popular opinion by insisting that blacks were entitled to same rights as whites. Only 40 years ago and nearly 100 years after the end of the Civil War! And when you think about how the director of the FBI, a racist himself, actively worked against King, is it any wonder that Reverend Wright's ideas have credence in the black community to this day?

And honestly, despite all the ways in which things have improved since then, we're not there yet. Not when the mainstream media spends weeks obsessing about whether this country is "ready" for a black president.


Thank you for reminding us Europeans, that there were and still are a lot of Americans who care for peace and social justice. Hopefully, for the US and the rest of the world, they will gain more political power....

Hello Mike,

Thank you for marking the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's death with your thoughtful and aptly-titled post.

While it's true that Dr. King in some ways patterned his civil disobedeince protests after Ghandi, I think it's a mistake to link Dr. King's overarching philosophy too tightly with that of Ghandi.

Ghandi was absolutist about nonviolence to the point of being ridiculous. For example, he advised the Jews of Nazi Germany (in his correspondence with Martin Buber) to go nonviolently to their deaths - what a glorious less that would be for the world! he reasoned. This sort of thinking is what irked Churchill, quite understandably, I think.

Dr. King's outlook was much more practical and, well, American. While he felt that the evil of segregation was redeemable and amenable to appeals to Americans' better nature, he understood that there was such a thing as unredeemable evil in the world.

Few people realize, for example, that Dr. King was a vigorous supporter of the State of Israel. “Israel’s right to exist as a state is incontestable,” Dr. King wrote. He then added, almost prophetically, “At the same time the great powers have the obligation to recognize that the Arab world is in a state of imposed poverty and backwardness that must threaten peace and harmony.” (BTW, Israel is the only country outside the US that marks Martin Luther King Day annually, with a special session of Parliament.)

I was 18 when Dr. King was killed, and I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I learned the terrible news. For me, as for many my age, it was a tragedy of a magnitude similar to JFK's assasination.

One thing that jolted me this year on the 40th anniversary of Dr. King's death is that, had he lived, he would now be only 79 - he was only 39 at the time of his death; to me, he seemed much older and more mature.

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