While reading Dr. King’s novel, I was able to get an uncensored idea of what African Americans went through in their struggle for civil rights. I cannot comprehend the extent to which they suffered while protesting, and it would be ignorant of me to think that I could understand. The many people who fought with Martin Luther King, Jr. for civil rights understand something about this country that I am only beginning to discover.
I can only hope this shameful part of our history is never repeated.
I felt a sense of disgust and shame while reading about the events of the Civil Rights struggle in Birmingham, Alabama. I have always heard that they would used dogs and water hoses to push back crowds, but I always got the sense that it was some kind of chaotic protesting on the part of the African Americans. I cannot believe that people who live in a country based on freedom of speech and the other rights in the Constitution would try to stop peaceful protests and demonstrations in such a manner. How could people think that this kind of oppression was tolerable and that the blacks did not have a right and freedom to protest?
Part of me wanted to be there to help make a difference and join in the struggle, but part of me was also really afraid just by reading about the events in Birmingham. The people who protested with Dr.
King showed a tremendous amount of courage and passion that could not be put out by fire hoses or dogs. I do not think that anyone, who has not been the victim of the extreme oppression that the blacks were victims of for hundreds of years, could understand why the civil rights movement was necessary at that time. Dr. King realized that you cannot wait for people to change their attitudes or beliefs, you have to help them see the error of their beliefs. It is easy for someone who is not being oppressed to tell you to wait. When you and your families are the victims of oppression and violence, you reach a breaking point when you realize that things need to change now.
Dr. King had the courage to say that publicly, and people followed him in the struggle because of that courage.
When you believe in something that much nothing, not even death can stop the struggle. Even after Dr. King was assassinated, his legacy lived on. His legacy was something that was stronger than the racists’ attitudes in this country and there was nothing they could do to stop his legacy.
Our country has come a long way the events in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. Each day we come closer to being the country that Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned, and I hope we get there soon. I look forward to the day that we can say as a country that oppression and racism were the biggest mistakes of our country and they are a thing of the past that shall never be relived by anyone.
King, Martin Luther. Why We Can’t Wait .