The Legacy of Martin Luther King’s Civil Disobedience


The Martin Luther King Monument in Washington, DC with a cherry blossom tree in front of it

Every year, we dedicate the third Monday in January to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his special place in our country’s past as a civil rights leader.

But as a symbol, King continues to play an important role in the country’s present and future. Enduring photos of the 1960s civil rights protests led by King and others tell us our views Civil disobedience In the modern American consciousness.

And if the summer of 2020 is an indication of the turmoil caused by the death of George Floyd, many Americans have renewed their belief in these teachings.

Civil disobedience has a long history

King wasn’t actually the first person to teach civil disobedience. Written by author Henry David Thoreau The “civil disobedience” of 1849, The term circulated here in the United States and was used in Mahatma Gandhi and his followers in their fight for Indian independence.

Many Christians also point to the life of Jesus Christ as an early example of civil disobedience against the Roman Empire to win loyalists to his cause.

Using civil disobedience to effect change

Like Gandhi, King used civil disobedience as a means to effect government change. It has taken the form of a widespread and nonviolent refusal to comply with government orders. There were sit-ins and marches, all against the wishes of the local authorities.

In King’s view, the goal was “to create a situation so crunchy that he will.” The door to negotiation is definitely open. “ Civil disobedience, if widespread enough, Forces Government to negotiate change.

Tens of thousands of Americans – if not more – used this strategy in 2020. While some of the people who protested in the wake of Floyd’s death wreaked havoc, Walked a lotThey held sit-ins and refused police orders to disperse to demonstrate their commitment to their principles.

Many peacefully surrendered to the police. Each of them risked a criminal record in the name of change.

Martin Luther King’s legacy of civil disobedience is honored through all of these actions. So why not take the time on Monday to honor him? While we’re not advocating breaking the law, MLK Day is too Recognized as a National Day of Service. There are countless volunteering opportunities available across the country for you to take advantage of.

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