Civil Rights Expert Explains Importance of Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Published: January 16, 2015

Civil Rights Expert Explains Importance of Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrates the rich history of American social movements dedicated to achieving racial justice, according to one Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi history professor. 

“As a key figurehead of the Civil Rights Movement, King’s commitment to non-violent civil disobedience inspired activists throughout the country and the world to fight against racism, poverty, violence, and other forms of oppression,” said Dr. Beth Robinson, Assistant Professor of History.  “King’s question of “What are you doing for others?” has shaped the holiday into a day of service to address ongoing social inequalities.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is on Monday, Jan. 19. King, a leader of the 1960s American civil rights movement, was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Ga. A Baptist minister and outspoken advocate of non-violent protest, at the age of 35 he became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn. His historic “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered to civil rights supporters at the March on Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28, 1963.

Robinson explains that many continue to honor King’s legacy by participating in community service events, while others pay tribute to him through ongoing campaigns to attain a higher minimum wage, end “stop and frisk” police policies, and improve public schools.

“Dr. King’s vision was for an America opposed not only to the most obvious forms of racism, but to poverty and militarism,” she said. “By placing the struggle for racial justice within a broader context, Dr. King inspired hundreds of thousands to fight for better schools, jobs, housing, voting opportunities, and against violence and imperialism.”

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Del Mar College are sponsoring the third annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration. The event will be held on Thursday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. at the Del Mar College Richardson Performance Hall. The keynote speaker is Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, a Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University. Dr. Dyson has authored many books, with the most recent being “April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death and How It Changed America.” He is also a contributing editor of Time magazine. The event is free and open to the public.