Martin Luther King Jr Day: Recognizing Some Core Values of Dr. King’s Work as a Social Activist

Gaston Beltran, Phoenix Staff writer

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr Day2021: many people knew of the very dreams and aspirations Dr. King had as a defender of Black civil rights, peace through non-violence, staging boycotts, and calling on the rhetoric of the dehumanizing nature of racism as it was during his time and unfortunately still is today. However, this is just a deepening reminder that we need not only more inclusiveness in positions of power, but to advocate for all Black voices in every way possible. One way people can come to understand some of the deeper held thoughts and beliefs social activists are changed by is to look at their roots or schools of thought. This can help anyone who is deeply interested in how social activism can begin to work because they lay foundations for understanding why social activists fight for their causes with the passions they nurture.

For example, did you know Dr. King was heavily inspired by the teaching of Mahatma Gandhi? Dr. King learned about Gandhi through his teachings and from a trip he took to India in 1959. He used teachings Gandhi declared such as maintaining peace through staging nonviolence acts. This could mean that a social activist is getting berated and attacked but must keep their position without reacting especially in violence. This is a core value of the practice of protesting through nonviolent means. Gandhi called this nonviolence satyagraha meaning “love-force” or “truth-force”. This concept helped Gandhi navigate activism against the British Empire, helping India win its independence in 1947. Dr. King first learned about Gandhi as a seminary student, a Christian, and connected his teachings to the Biblical idea of Jesus to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. Dr. King also felt that anyone who practices nonviolence has to be willing to endure suffering on the inside and out. “The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him”. And after his trip to India, Dr. King concluded “It was a marvelous thing to see the amazing results of a nonviolent campaign…The aftermath of hatred and bitterness that usually follows a violent campaign was found nowhere in India”.

When one looks to sources of understanding especially where Dr. King or even as a social activist gets their core values and beliefs from, it’s worth the added effort of researching what it’s about so that it ties in with personal values of your own. Click on the following link for more information used in this article about Dr. King.