Introduction

World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed. Thus we must begin anew. Nonviolence is a good starting point. Those of us who believe in this method can be voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion. We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built."

--Martin Luther King, Jr., December 1964


This year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at LaGuardia Community College spotlights King’s 1964 Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech and 1963 Lincoln Memorial Address. Civil rights was not a time for the faint-hearted. It was a time for warriors of peace and justice. King reminds us that non-violence is not a passive activity. One must aggressively pursue the actualization of justice. At the same time, one must not sacrifice their righteousness or humanity by exacting revenge or aggression against another. African Americans and their supporters walked hard, prayed hard, sang fervently and voted judiciously to ensure that we their benefactors would have a higher quality of life in the United States. And so it is fitting that we used the first month each year to reconnect and revive the legacy of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the other living and transcended “trustees of peace and brotherhood”.

Naikyemi Odedefaa

On Behalf of the LaGuardia MLK Day Steering Committee


The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.... The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

"Strength to Love" (1963)

 

Overview of the MLK Website

On the site, you will find the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” as well as the “Statement from Alabama Clergymen” which prompted Dr. King’s response. You will also find a photo gallery of poignant pictures that capture some of the turbulence, viciousness, bravery and hope of the time.

This site contains curriculum materials and resources specific to the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and has been arranged by themes to facilitate locating materials that might be related to the course you are teaching or taking. The themes include:

  • Birmingham - materials about the history of the city and other important contextual information about this pivotal time in the civil rights movement in 1963;
  • Religion – inquiry based reflection, timelines, and analyses about the role of religion especially Christianity and liberation theology on the civil rights movement;
  • Nonviolence – activities about Dr. King’s relationship to the philosophy of nonviolence and Gandhi;
  • Rhetoric – classroom-based examinations of rhetorical devices Rev. King used to strengthen his argument in the letter;
  • Civil Disobedience – explorations of these tactics and how they advance civil rights and help to change unjust governmental policies.

The website contains biographical information about Dr. King, a timeline of his major events in his life, excerpts from various speeches that he gave, and poems written about him. In addition, you will find materials and resources on freedom songs, quizzes, videos, and information specifically for children, activities for the “Day of Service,” Rosa Parks and various other important learning tools related.