Last week we celebrated the coming in of the New Year—2015, a holiday for remembering the past and for looking forward with hope for brighter and more peaceful days ahead. This week we are celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Since 1986 the third Monday in January has been observed as a national holiday in honor of this great citizen.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, and during his life he was instrumental in advancing the African-American Civil Rights Movement using nonviolent methods of civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs. Dr. King was active in the Peace Movement, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and he also saw the need to stamp out poverty. He was planning a Poor People’s Campaign when he was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 39 years old.
It is hard for me to think of this young man dying by such violent means when his whole life’s work was dedicated to peace.
Just this past week another trail-blazer passed away. Edward W. Brooke III, who in 1966 became the first African-American elected by popular vote to the United States Senate, died at the age of 95. Senator Brooke championed civil rights, but he worked within the political system to achieve his ends. He began running for office shortly after law school in 1950 and finally won his first post as Attorney General of Massachusetts in 1962. That year he was the only statewide Republican winner in what was then heavily a Democratic state. As a Senator (1966-1978) Mr. Brooke was known as a coalition builder who nevertheless stood firmly and bravely on such principals as fair housing, civil rights and aid to cities and the poor. He was well-regarded by his constituents and won re-election to the Senate in 1972.
These days many of my personal friends who lived through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s have passed on after living long and productive lives. Just this last December I said farewell to Thomas “Tom” D. Brown who alongside his wife, Helen, dedicated his life to advancing equality in the public schools and economic opportunity in Fort Wayne. He worked beside one of my dearest friends, William G. Williams, who was tireless in his efforts toward advancing equal opportunity for all people. (Bill and his wife Jackie were married by Dr. Martin Luther King in 1955 at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.)
In his last years Bill Williams worked with me at Wayne Township until his passing in September 2009. The lessons he learned in the Civil Rights Movement were brought to bear here at Wayne Township where the goal was, and is, to treat all of our clients equally with dignity and respect.
I celebrate all of these model citizens who have given their shoulders for us to stand on, and I have faith that new voices are rising up in our community to carry on the call for liberty and justice for all.
Latest posts by Richard A. Stevenson - Wayne Township Trustee (see all)
- WE ARE LIVING IN A ‘GIG ECONOMY’ – Voice Of The Township - October 13, 2017
- KNOWING OUR HISTORY AND CULTURE – Voice Of The Township - September 29, 2017
- LOOKING FORWARD – Voice Of The Township - September 15, 2017