The Vista Voice

Remembering His Life: Martin Luther King, Jr.

Matthew Deschler, Staff Writer

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Bells all over America tolled 39 times at 6 p.m. on April 4 in honor of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. The 39 times symbolized his age at the time of his death.

Dr. King devoted his life to help further the civil rights movement in the U.S., and his work made him the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35.  He spent his life entirely devoted to the ultimate fact that “…all men are created equal” as he said in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. This meant that there should be equal rights for all Americans, no matter what color of skin.

According to his biography on the Nobel Prize website, “When notified of his [Nobel Peace Prize] selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.”  He worked hard to ensure that his goals would be achieved, and he died in the work of completing those goals.

“The first time he really came to the national stage was with the Montgomery Bus Boycott,” said Kelly Baquero, U.S. History teacher at Vista del Lago High School. “Prior to that, he spent most of his time furthering civil rights in Montgomery.”

As stated in his biography, “During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time, he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.”

After the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Dr. King started leading peaceful civil rights protests at the national level, an earlier form of our current protests that we use today. “Some people are concerned that the work he did is becoming in vain in this modern society,” said Baquero. “Martin Luther King was a huge part of today’s protests. He protested about issues that still exist today, such as respect for immigrants and the police having no discrimination.”

Most people’s lives today have been indirectly affected by Martin Luther King Jr. “We were all taught in middle school a little bit about the civil rights movement,” said James Eckert, student at Vista del Lago. “We know what he did and why he did it. His life helped many people today.”

Although many people saw him as a hero, there were some who did not see it that way. Such people did not want equality between races and, according to his biography, “…assaulted [him] at least four times.” And after all this, when he continued to work for civil rights, he was assassinated.  He was standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, and there he was assassinated. Although he was seen as a hero by many, he was killed by one who saw him as a threat. 

Although his impact on people’s lives was different for each person, there is no doubt that life in America would be very different without him having done what he did.  There is still racism and injustice, but Martin Luther King worked his entire life to do away with these.

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Remembering His Life: Martin Luther King, Jr.