January 21, 2013

Taking a Stand: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we celebrate a leader who died tragically and way too young: Martin Luther King, Jr.  We celebrate his accomplishments in moving civil rights forward and mourn our loss of a great man.

This 7 minute video is part 1 in a 3 part series in which Dr. King is interviewed by Mike Douglas on TV in 1967. The focus of the interview is primarily on his stance in opposing the Vietnam War, which was not particularly popular even among some people who supported his work on civil rights.  He speaks eloquently on the topic and remains steadfast with his convictions.

One section of the video I find particularly inspiring (around 5:20)  is when he is questioned as to whether his stance on the war may cause people to turn away from him, people who might otherwise support him. His response, in essence, is that people who really support equality will not change their views because some leaders in the civil rights movement take positions on other issues they don't agree with. He paraphrases a quote by T.S. Eliot in saying "...there is no greater heresy than to do the right thing for the wrong reason...".

In my mind, MLK was great not just because of the causes he supported and acted upon, but because he did not let the end justify the means. He remained an advocate of nonviolent resistance and his speaking out against the Vietnam War came from a genuine belief that the war was wrong. He did not waver even when his positions were not popular.  This is what integrity is all about.