On the third Monday of January each year, Wesleyan and most of America is let out of school to celebrate the birth, life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Born in our very own Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. King was a Baptist preacher. From the mid-1950s until his death, Dr. King headed a pacifist movement for civil rights.
“The thing that he did that was so good was that he made the conversation about equality mainstream…He took two things that Americans really valued. One was the constitution,” said Scheer. “He challenged Americans to be true to what they’d said: that all men are created equal. He used a lot of language like that, and he used a lot of biblical language.”
Dr. King was arrested a total of 29 times, and was continuously put under terrorist threats, but he still believed in hope and his goal.
“He had this unbelievable amount of hope and courage. But he said when he spoke about his dream…He just had this amazing hope that they would become one, that they would gain their freedom and equality,” said Scheer.
King continued to March and protest, gaining popularity and strength, and on Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Washington monument on live television. Many Historians and Dr. King enthusiasts say this is his most famous speech because it encased so much passion and drove many people to join him.
“He challenged Americans to be true to what they’d said– that all men are created equal,” said Scheer.
Ultimately, it would bring forth popularity and criticism, leading to an untimely death. Sometime later, in 1968, he would be assassinated on a balcony of a hotel.
Although Dr.King was gone, his legacy was powerful and his death only meant that his voice resounded even louder.
“He wasn’t the first person to feel the sting and the pain of inequality, but what was so brilliant about him was that he was able to connect that idea to people who hadn’t experienced that.” said Scheer.
Dr. King affects the atmosphere around us in our day-to-day lives. There is not a better place to study the great advocate then here in Atlanta, his place of movement and childhood. If you step out into the urban streets of Atlanta, Dr. King. is all over the place.
“MLK is inspirational. He influenced many people to stand up for others, connect with those who may be different, and treat others equally,” said junior Sophia Kim, member of the Diversity Club.
“His actions caused a domino effect on today’s society. Without him fighting for equality, racism and segregation might be the same. Because of him, people’s worldviews and relations with people are better.”
Around Atlanta are key places in the life of the pastor: Ebenezer Church, where he started his ministry, and his march routes, where he led groups of pacifist protestors. These trails show you exactly the lengths Dr. King went to break down segregation. The MLK center, aslo available, is a highly thorough examination of his life and the impact he had on society- a live biography. Dr. King has left a legacy that will not be forgotten between generations and races.