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On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters gathered in front of the U.S. Capitol building in protest. This event went from protesting to rioting, then to a siege that shocked everyone from across the globe. Only a week later, America celebrated civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr, prompting the question of whether or not Martin Luther King Jr. would approve or disapprove of the actions at the Capital and the state of our country.
Simply put, I believe he would disapprove. People have disagreed with that statement but they would have to look back on the history of Martin Luther King Jr. and see what he really stood for. He was a loving, religious, man who stood up for civil rights. But he did this through peaceful protests, speeches, and marches to demand justice, a display that is very different from protests today, from both sides.
MLK was a very influential person and an American figure in the 1950s and 1960s, and can be influential to us today if we look back and apply his values.
Martin Luther King Jr was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta Georgia, the son of a Baptist minister. He graduated with a doctorate degree in theology. Later, in 1955, he helped organize the first major protest of the African American civil rights movement, the Montgomery bus boycott. He advocated civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance to segregation in the South.
However, the peaceful protests, which he promoted, were met with violence from the white crowd but they kept their faith and the movement moved forward.
Other than a civil rights leader, he was a powerful speaker, appealing to Christian and American ideals. Throughout the journey of the movement, he gained the support of the federal government and the northern whites. In 1963, Dr. King gave his special “I Have a Dream” speech after the March on Washington. In 1964, the civil rights movement achieved both the ratification of the 24th amendment, which abolished the poll tax, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited racial discrimination in employment and education and outlawed racial segregation in public facilities. Later that year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his help and motivation to make this movement come to its conclusion. Thanks to him, everyone of every nationality or race can live in this country with a peace of mind–until this past year and new year.
This new year brought new hope for us all but the peace was short lived when a Trump rally in front of the US Capitol quickly turned into a riot and a siege against the Capitol building. According to the Washington Post, it was the “most serious attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812”. On this historic day, five people died, including a Capitol police officer. These actions were scarring to the whole country and showed where we really are as a nation.
But the words of Martin Luther King Jr can still be inspiring today, when our country is once again in a dark place. For example, in his “I have a dream“ speech, he says, “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.”
This can really speak to us today with the horrible event at the Capitol. Another quote from his speech says, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.’” The first part of that quote reminds me of a song called Starts With Me by TobyMac. It talks about the United States and how we are so divided, far from what the Founding Fathers intended. But the song continues in that, as a younger and newer generation, that change starts with us, to change that divide and to bring us together. Which leads to another quote from the I have a dream speech. It is a hymn about the country, saying, “My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” This is the American dream. I saw it and so did Dr. King. That is where the truth lies. That is what America is supposed to be. Not filled with hatred and violence.
Martin Luther King Jr would not approve of such acts against the Capitol. A freshman at Saugus, who wishes to remain anonymous, said, “I do not think that Dr. King would approve of these actions because even though he was treated very horribly and violently I think he would disapprove of the actions of the people, because in the end it is the wrong thing. I think that when we are mad we should not turn to violence and come up with a solution in a more sophisticated and civilized way.”
Dr. King said, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred…We must not allow creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.” He wanted to pursue justice and freedom through peace and love and silence that speaks loudly. As we go through this next year of 2021, as Dr. King said, “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.” Lift your head up and keep walking on for the country we love called America.
The opinions in The Scroll’s editorials are strictly the views of the writers of the staff or outside submissions. The views do not represent or reflect the opinions or policies of Saugus High School or the William S. Hart School District. The Scroll welcomes all reactions and outside submissions to share alternative views.