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home : opinion : opinion January 31, 2023

1/13/2023 8:41:00 AM
Remembering MLK
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became a natonal holiday when signed into law in November 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. Reagan had opposed the holiday, but agreed to it when it passed overwhelming in the US House 338-90 and 78–22 in the Senate.
Senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East (both North Carolina Republicans) led the opposition to the holiday. Helms criticized King's opposition to the Vietnam War and accused him of espousing

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became a natonal holiday when signed into law in November 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. Reagan had opposed the holiday, but agreed to it when it passed overwhelming in the US House 338-90 and 78–22 in the Senate.

Senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East (both North Carolina Republicans) led the opposition to the holiday. Helms criticized King's opposition to the Vietnam War and accused him of espousing "action-oriented Marxism". He led a filibuster against the bill, and Helms led a filibuster against the bill and in October 1983 submitted a 300-page document alleging that King had associations with communists. New York Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan declared the document a "packet of filth," threw it on the Senate floor and stomped on it.


L. Wayne Howard
Staff Writer


Occasionally, I find it necessary to remind myself that a majority of our readers don't remember things like the Vietnam War or the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy or Martin Luther King.  Only older readers remember the days of school segregation, the era when people of color were forbidden from eating in most restaurants, but forced, if they wanted to buy restaurant food, to take it from the back door.  

While most have heard Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech, only older readers remember having watched the events of that day in August 1963 on television.  

Dr. King wasn't the only person fighting for civil rights in the 1960s; he was the best known.  There were others, some of them like Dr. King committed to the non-violent approach for which he became known, and others who felt that non-violence amounted to acquiescing to maintaining the status quo that saw people of color as inferior to whites.  

Stokely Carmichael coined the slogan "black power," and it became something of a battle cry for the younger generation who were tired of waiting for reforms.  

Eldridge Cleaver, a member of the Black Panthers, once remarked, "Lyndon Johnson will negotiate with Martin because he doesn't want to have to do battle with me."  

In the same era as Dr. King, Malcolm X rejected what he considered a 'white' religion--Christianity and became a Muslim.  He preached that blacks must take control of their own lives and spoke about black nationalism.  

In truth, many of the civil rights reforms that were once called victories have shown themselves through history to be another example of discrimination against blacks.  Once thriving black communities were divided by major roadways being built that split them in two.  Integration became a matter of black people being accepted into formerly all-white society; at the same time seeing the demise of a previously functioning black society.  

While many cannot remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., because they weren't born yet when he was alive, it behooves those who believe in equality under the law and equal opportunity for all as much as possible to carry on the struggle that Dr. King and others began.

Some will argue, but the evidence is overwhelming that racial and ethnic discrimination still exists including in our justice system and in society.  






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