By Michael Roberts
This year on January 15 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will be 83 years old. On that day in 1929 one of the last century's most outstanding and influential Black leaders came into the world of white racism in the United States. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the man who would become the embodiment and conscience of the Civil Rights Movement, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to a religious Black middle class family. In fact, he was the grandson of the Rev. A.D. Williams, then pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church who was also the founder of Atlanta's chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). It was this family tradition of Christian social activism that would eventually shape King's adult life and catapult him into the leadership position of the national Black Civil Rights Struggle.
While many of King's detractors have criticized him for his non-violent Ghandian-style civil disobedience strategy that he pitted against a hostile, belligerent State apparatus, there can be little doubt that he eventually achieved the grudging respect of an American Establishment more comfortable with the use of violence than with non-violent means against violence. And even today many still have not fully grasped the tremendous racial inequalities that King was a witness to in the segregated south. Few today would have been able to live in the intolerable conditions of "separate and unequal" that was the slogan and forced institutionalized apartheid of the South.
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