Martin Luther King, Jr. is Not Dead


After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Viet Cong resistance fighters testified that they were encouraged in their fight for freedom by the spirit and steadfastness of Dr. King and the Black freedom movement (Hope and History, Vincent Harding, p. 5). Martin Luther King was not dead in Vietnam.

In June 1989, 21 years after the death of Martin Luther King, thousands of Chinese students protested for Chinese democracy. In Beijing’s Tiananmen Square they hung great banners announcing in English, “We Shall Overcome” (Ibid, p 3). Martin Luther King was not dead in China.

In October that same year, the Lutheran church in Leipzig, East Germany, began holding prayers for peace every Monday evening. After the prayers, people began holding candles, demonstrating for freedom and democracy. Within a month, the demonstrations had grown to 70,000; the following Monday, 120,000; then, 320,000. They sang, “We Shall Overcome” (Ibid, p 4). Martin Luther King was not dead in East Germany.

Then, as East and West Germans together began tearing down the Berlin Wall, they sang the words, “The wall is coming down.” But the tune they sang those words to was the old slavery tune, made famous by Fannie Lou Hamer, “Go Tell It on the Mountain… to let my people go” (Ibid, p 4). Martin Luther King was not dead in their hearts.

In December 1989, there was a terrible massacre in Timisoara, Romania. Not long afterwards, one of the freedom protesters explained, “The people have broken through their fears. We cannot turn back”—the same words Black Americans had used to explain how they had finally found the strength and courage to stand firm in the face of police dogs and fire-hoses (Ibid, p 4). Martin Luther King was not dead in Romania.

The struggle for freedom, justice, democracy and the beloved community tied the children of Africa—South Africa and the American South—together. Nelson Mandela began recalling Dr. King’s courage, discipline, faith and spirit (Ibid, p4). Desmond Tutu became the champion of truth, love, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Thank God that Martin Luther King is not dead.

Above photo: (in the public domain)

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    By: Lorin Peters

    While serving in the Peace Corps (in Thailand, 1965-69), Lorin received a death threat that led him back to his father’s Mennonite roots, to nonviolence, and to Gandhi.

    During Vietnam, while teaching physics at a Catholic high school, Lorin was asked to create and teach a course on war and peace. He has also taught nonviolence at UC Extension, and he now teaches one month each winter at a Muslim school in Thailand, with students from all over Asia.

    The day after September 11, 2001, he began meditating with Michael Nagler. Lorin also joined Christian Peacemaker Teams, serving seven summers in Hebron, Palestine-Israel.

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