16 January 2015

If You Haven't Already, Go See Selma!

From Danny

Yesterday marks the 86th year since the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On Monday, the United States will observe a national holiday to celebrate and honor his life and contributions to the civil rights movement and the dignity of all human beings.

Over the years I have read about his life, admired and identified with his non-violent approach to protesting, read and considered the wisdom of his words, felt the power of his speeches, and seen a few movies portraying him or the approach he took towards seeking justice. Each "contact" I have had with the man leaves me deeply impressed and always desiring to know more.

Watching the movie "Selma" with Mara was no different. Sometimes I am awestruck considering what a single human being is able to do with what seems like a very short life. In his case, he used his 39 years to change an entire nation, and he did it motivated by the power of Love.

If you haven't seen the movie yet, please take advantage of this 3-day weekend that honors him, go to the theater with your family, and see a movie portraying the events that led to the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.  See what happens when one man motivated by Love inspires others to live a life motivated by Love, and with that changes the course of history and begins to heal a nation.

The movie was truly beautiful, I hope everybody will see.

A few questions for the comment section: 1) Have you seen the movie, and if so what did you think?  2) If any readers lived during those years, would you share a thought or impression that most sticks in your memory?  3) Does anyone that is well read on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have a favorite book recommendation for someone anxious to know more about his life?  

I'll leave you with a few MLK quotes I've gathered over the years that seem particularly relevant to what we aspire to share on this blog:
- Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.  
- Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.  
- So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?  
- Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.  
- We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.  
- Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars... Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.  
- Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.  
- Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.  
- Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.


  1. Danny (and Mara),

    I saw Selma last weekend and I absolutely loved it. In my undergraduate degree, I took a history class called 'The Long 60s in the US' which chronicled the civil rights movement among other things, and I find it to be the most fascinating era of history I have ever studied.

    In that class, we had to read Walking With The Wind, by John Lewis. It was and continues to be one of my favorites. He wrote such a great tale of his contribution to the civil rights movement. In the movie, he was one of the two young men in Selma, and he walked at the front of the line to Montgomery.

    Anyway! If you can get your hands on it, I highly recommend it :) I went into a frenzie looking up more info on the practice of non-violence and was inspired by the word 'satyagraha'. give it a search, it is a wonderful term coined by Ghandi himself.

    All my love,

  2. Whoops, just realize the comment I made earlier didn't get posted.

    Thanks for sharing, and for letting me know about that book, I'll definitely be looking into it.

    And thank you also for suggesting I look at the word "satyagraha"....when I was reading about the meaning behind the word and the way it was incorporated into Ghandi's movement, my mind immediately recalled reading about the pledge that MLK made all protestors sign and agree to....it wasn't hard to see how Ghandi's ideas would have influenced that pledge.

    Seriously, that pledge is worth a post all on it's own. The principles one needs to be aligned with to positively affect change are universal...they do not belong to a particular religion, time period, or location of people. And yes, it ultimately boils down to Love.

    Thanks - Danny

  3. I actually don't idolize MLK or put him on a pedestal, and I think it can undermine social justice movements to do so. Don't get me wrong - I admire the man a lot, I appreciate what he did for this country, and I enjoy hearing him speak and reading his words. However, it's incorrect to think that *he* did so much more for the movement or the country than other people who worked to end racial oppression. What worked with civil rights - and all that's ever worked to advance rights - is MOVEMENTS of groups of people, well-organized, over the long-term. People have simple brains, and we like to focus on singular people (it's why people can get more angry over one death than about thousands dying in some other country or why we focus on singular leaders when thousands were responsible).

    The civil rights movement was a very well established thing before MLK got involved with thousands of people whose names we'll never know working non-stop and risking their lives. MLK was recruited to help because he was a skilled orator. Like many other people, he joined an existing movement and contributed his particular skill set - an ability to move and inspire people with words. Again, countless other people who were no less important did other equally important work - leading the movement, getting the movement to the point it was at when MLK was brought on, getting arrested, leading protests, staging their own tiny acts of rebellion, litigating, working to change public policy, etc.

    MLK was also a flawed person who was notorious (even captured in recordings) for cheating on his wife and using prostitutes. He plagiarized a lot of his amazing speeches and quotes from others. I don't say this to tear him down - he is, after all, just human. I say it because I think sometimes we deify and glorify a person so much that they start to seem super-human and other people don't think they can measure up and don't think they can contribute to movements of our day. But, I think that many people can make MLK-like contributions to today's issues by offering their skills and talents to worthy causes and throwing their heart and soul into the work.

    In summary, MLK is amazing. But not so amazing that he should get more credit for the civil rights movement than thousands of other people whose names we'll never know. And like those other thousands of people, plenty of people today could make those same contributions without being a deified superstar.

  4. AWESOME comment! Seriously. And I agree. There were certainly many countless souls before him, and many after. But, as is the case with many movements, he stands as a symbol representing the whole.

    And when it comes to comparing the tactics of MLK and those we worked with, to other more militant groups like Malcolm X, I personally tend to appreciate more the approach carried out by MLK. That being said, it would be hard to imagine the overall progress of civil rights without individuals like Malcolm X as well.

    But, that someone choses to change hearts by love, by turning the other cheek, by peaceful means, is something that he embodies and for that I believe him to be worthy of admiration.

  5. I have to agree with the other anonymous - MLK was pretty much a touchstone with regard to the civil rights movement .He had a terrible habit of plagiarizing to the point that his doctorate was compromised - I'll admit I always cry when I hear the "I have a dream " speech even though parts of it are "borrowed" - but it's so beautiful and he was such a talented orator that it's like listening to an aria . One thing I remember and people don't talk very much about this were the riots in Washington that broke out after he was killed. It was so frightening- my dad was away on a business trip and I remember my mother on the phone frantic making plans to get us away from the city. The burning and looting that was done by people in their own neighborhoods - the signs that people painted on store windows"white owned" so that they could be singled out for destruction. It was YEARS before those neighborhoods recovered - that's what I remember about that time .

    1. Wow. What a memory. And yes, it is true that there is probably a lot in the life of MLK that could be disapproved of. I guess with him and with anyone, I do TRY to realize that people are human. They may have horrible weaknesses, but also some of the most incredible strengths the world has ever seen. It seems the case with all of us to varying degrees. Though unfortunately, public figures (leaders, politicians, famous people, etc.) seem to receive extra scrutiny because we usually desire a more perfect character from them. But, alas, they are still human.

  6. Read "Parting the Waters - America in the King Years". It covers everything.

    I have four little brown kids and every. single. day. I am so incredibly thankful that I didn't have to live in the "good old days".

    1. Thank you for the recommendation!! I'd so love to read this.


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