Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Martin Luther King on Education - I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King had a dream to destroy Jim Crow.

Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream, Lincoln Memorial
Martin Luther King, I Have a Dream, Lincoln Memorial
Martin Luther King delivered his I Have a Dream Speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 before an audience of more than two hundred thousand. I Have a Dream was a speech that was developed over many years, starting when Martin Luther King joined the Montgomery Bus Boycott, sparked by Rosa Parks in 1955. 

The I Have a Dream Speech was a culmination of struggles that had been endured by, not just the man--Martin Luther King--but all African Americans. At the heart of the civil rights struggle were several civil rights that African Americans were prevented from enjoying. One of those crucial civil rights being denied by Jim Crow laws was an equal education. In fact, education in the African American community was not only unequal to that of whites, but it was inferior on its own. School supplies were lacking in black schools, teachers were under-trained in many cases and building facilities were without adequate space and even proper lighting and heating.

Martin Luther King - Lincoln University 1961
Martin Luther King - Lincoln University 1961
So, you see, the Civil Rights movement was about more than ridding the American vocabulary of the "N" word. Civil rights were about equal education and equality in all aspect of American life where rights for African Americans and other people of color were systematically denied. 

Equality in society cannot be attained without equal education.

The African American community from the time it was freed from slavery pushed their children to get as much education as possible. It was the belief of the black community that equal rights could only be gained through education. The uneducated, they believed, would always be relegated to unequal circumstances and poverty. 

Many African American families sacrificed to send their children to school and to college. They paid for tuition, textbooks and school supplies with meager earnings as farm workers, domestic help and common laborers. Martin Luther King, however, had advantages of security as a child with a prosperous father to support him and his siblings. In cases, like his, it was understood that the children would attend college. This meant room and board, train or bus transportation and school clothing.

Introduced during slavery, Jim Crow laws and black codes prohibited the instruction of bonded laborers in letters and numbers. Educated slaves, the owners believed, would no longer accept their status and possible would rebel. After emancipation, landowners who controlled sharecroppers in a similar manner as slaves, held the same beliefs. Although it was no longer against the law to educate former slaves, the economic system certainly discouraged their education. Jim Crow schools were designated separate but equal, a concept that had no meaning when it came to equality. Martin Luther King was an educated man who preached education for all. 

Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King arrested for disorderly conduct in Montgomery, Alabama.

Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Arrest Photos 1954
Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King
Arrest Photos 1954
In fact, in many areas of the United States, Jim Crow laws did not provide for or require African American children to attend school. Education was thought to pollute the cheap workforce, making laborers desire a better life. Rosa Parks had to walk many miles to school as a child, even passing a white school whose students were bused from home.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was ignited by Rosa Parks in 1954 and lasted for more than a year, hurled Martin Luther King, as a young pastor, into the national arena during. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was not just about maids and janitors getting to work without riding the bus. There were many students involved in the boycott walking miles to school instead of continued to be humiliated on public transportation. This was a movement within the larger Civil Rights Movement and helped energize the growing national struggle against Jim Crow laws. 

Martin Luther King was educated when he became a civil rights activist against Jim Crow laws during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, sparked by Rosa Parks.

I watched Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, civil rights and the dismantling of Jim Crow laws unfold on the evening news on television along with every other American household that had a television in their living room.

See full video of Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream,' written after Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and ignited the modern Civil Rights Movement against Jim Crow laws.

Martin Luther King: Dream Speech
Read full text of Martin Luther King's 'I Have A Dream,' written after Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and ignited the modern Civil Rights Movement against Jim Crow laws.

Blogger, Sunny Nash, is a writer, producer, photographer and leading author on race relations in America. 

Sunny Nash produces blogs, media, books, articles and images on history and contemporary topics, from slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow and civil rights to post racism, social media, entertainment and technology using her book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, as a basis for commentary and research.

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Sunny Nash's book was selected by the Association of American University Press as a resource for understanding U.S. race relations and recommended for Native American Collections by the Miami-Dade Public Library System.

"My book, 'Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's,' began in the 1990s. I was writing for Hearst and Knight-Ridder newspapers. The stories are about my childhood with my part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, my parents, relatives, friends, and others; and my interpretation of the events surrounding the Jim Crow South before and during the Civil Rights Movement.

Robin Fruble of Southern California said, "Every white person in America should read this book! Sunny Nash writes the story of her childhood without preaching or ranting but she made me realize for the first time just how much skin color changes how one experiences the world. But if your skin color is brown, it matters a great deal to a great number of people. I needed to learn that. Sunny Nash is a great teacher," Fruble said.

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