MLK faced many obstacles, yet stayed peaceful throughout

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Editorial by Dawn Burleigh


As Orange County was honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday with a MLK March, there was a shooting at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park in Miami.

While the reasons behind the shooting are not clear at this time, two persons of interest are being detained and questioned.

Six victims were transported to local hospitals while two juveniles were treated and released on scene according to a Miami-Dade Police Department press release.

The youngest victim was a mere 11 years old.

An 11 year old girl was honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. with her family. On a day honoring a man who peacefully fought for equality should be the

last place or time one would have to worry about the safety of their loved ones.

Peacefully fought may sound like an oxymoron, but he fought for civil rights and equality and did so peacefully.

King did not encourage violence, he was opposed to using violence to promote the cause.

On January 26, 1956, MLK is arrested as part of a “Get Tough” campaign to intimidate the bus boycotters.

In Atlanta, on October 19, 1960, MLK is arrested during a sit-in while waiting to be served at a restaurant. He is sentenced to four months in jail, but after intervention by then presidential candidate John Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, MLK is released.

December 16, 1961, MLK is arrested for obstructing the sidewalk and parading without a permit.

He is arrested again on July 27, 1962, and jailed for holding a prayer vigil in Albany.

On Good Friday, April 12, 1963, Police Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor arrests MLK and Ralph Abernathy for demonstrating without a permit.

On January 3, 1964, MLK appears on the cover of Time magazine as its Man of the Year. MLK is arrested protesting for the integration of public accommodations in St. Augustine, Florida, on June 11 of the same year.

On February 2, 1965, MLK is arrested in Selma, Alabama, during a voting rights demonstration.

On March 28, 1968, MLK leads a march that turns violent. He is appalled by the violence but vows to march again after the protestors learn discipline, according to

In reading of his arrests, and being appalled by the violence during a protest, one is also struck by the violent acts King faced during his life.

His home was bombed, nearly killed when he is stabbed by an assailant, segregationists bomb the Gaston Motel where he was staying, and stoned by a crowd of angry whites, before being fatally shot on April 4, 1968.

And yet, on December 10, 1964, at age thirty-five, he becomes the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Most will think of “I have a dream” speech or “Free at last”, when speaking of Martin Luther King Jr. I hope the victims in Monday’s shooting can still remember their reason for being at the park and not dwell on the events of this tragedy.

As MLK wrote in his infamous letters from a Birmingham, Alabama jail, “I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.”

May we find a non-violent way to move forward to true equality.


Dawn Burleigh is editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at