Lest We Forget the Greater Legacy of Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King’s Greater Legacy
It would have been enough to have secured non-discrimination on the basis of race. It would have been enough to end segregation, Jim Crow laws, so much that is no longer a part of the world today that in 1967 was still normal and oppressive. It is important to remember how these things were achieved as how great these gains. The greater legacy of Martin Luther King is quieter and less obvious, yet tremendous still.
He was an advocate for peace and reconciliation. He had to reject violent means, and to do so emphatically and convincingly. His ethic of nonviolence is still important to remember.
Martin Luther King Quotes on Nonviolence
“In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964, The Quest for Peace and Justice
“World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point.”“Time to Break Silence” in Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns News Notes, 35:5, Sept.-Oct. 2011
“Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love. Love is not emotional bash; it is not empty sentimentalism. It is the active outpouring of one’s whole being into the being of another.”The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. King Quotes on War and Peace.
The Test of Martin Luther King’s Complete Rejection of Violence as a Means for Revolution
Martin Luther King had to contend with factions in the movement that were impatient for change. He spoke deliberately and forcefully on his absolute commitment to peaceful means to secure peace; he made clear the cost of short-term actions generating more heat than light.
“Occasionally, Negroes contend that the 1963 Watts riot and the other riots in various cities represented effective civil rights action. But those who express this view always end up with stumbling words when asked what concrete gains have been won as a result. At best, the riots have produced a little additional anti-povery money allotted by frightened government officials and a few water sprinklers to cool the children of the ghettos. It is something like improving the food in the prison while the people remain securely incarcerated behind bars. Nowhere have the riots won any concrete improvement such as have the organized protest demonstrations.
“And when one tries to pin down advocates of violence as to what acts would be effective, the answers are blatantly illogical. Sometimes they talk of overthrowing racist state and local governments and they talk about guerrilla warfare. They fail to see that no internal revolution has ever succeeded in overthrowing a government by violence unless the government had already lost the allegiance and effective control of its armed forces. Anyone in his right mind knows that this will not happen in the United States. In a violent racial situation, the power structure has the local police, the state troopers, the National Guard, and finally the army to call on, all of which are predominantly white. Furthermore, few, if any, violent revolutions have been successful unless the violent minority had the sympathy and support of the nonresisting majority….
“This is no time for romantic illusions and empty philosophical debates about freedom. This is a time for action. What is needed is a strategy for change, a tactical program that will bring the Negro into the mainstream of American life as quickly as possible. So far, this has only been offered by the nonviolent movement. Without recognizing this we will end up with solutions that don’t solve, answers that don’t answer, and explanations that don’t explain.”“Where Do We Go From Here?” Martin Luther King addressing the 1967 convention of the SCLC
The Teachings of the New Message from God on Nonviolence in Times of Change
“It is not enough to overthrow the forces of oppression, for this leads to violence and great loss of life and suffering and too often only ushers in a different set of faces, a new lineage of oppressive rulers. How many people have sacrificed their lives and their well-being and their opportunity only to usher in a new and even more dangerous form of oppression?” The New Message for the Impoverished and Oppressed (April 18, 2008)
Further Repudiation of Violence as a Means to an End
Quotes about Violence on the New Message Wiki
The Pure Religion, Chapter 8: Religious Violence
“You cannot punish, torture or kill in the name of God. Therefore, there is no holy war. There is no holy warrior.”@marshallsummers on twitter