Tuesday, December 21, 2010

MLK gets the Nobel Peace Prize

On December 3 in Black History...

In 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Germany for his work toward peace through his leadership in the civil rights movement in America. (scroll to bottom to watch King's acceptance speech) He was the youngest man to have recieved the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35. Dr. King split the $54,123 associated with the prize among leading civil rights groups, giving $25,000 to the Gandhi Society for Human Rights, $12,000 to SCLC, and splitting the remainder among the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Urban League, and the Student Nonviolent.  http://kingpapers.org/ 

Telgram from Senator Kennedy
 Although many in the United States and abroad praised the selection, segregationist Eugene ‘‘Bull’’ Connor called it ‘‘scraping the bottom of the barrel’’ (‘‘Cheers and Scorn’’). Presenting the award to King in Oslo, Norway, that December, the chairman of the Nobel Committee praised him for being ‘‘the first person in the Western world to have shown us that a struggle can be waged without violence. He is the first to make the message of brotherly love a reality in the course of his struggle, and he has brought this message to all men, to all nations and races’’ (Jahn, ‘‘Presentation,’’ 332).  http://kingpapers.org/

I found an example of his non-violence approach in Time Magazine's issue where they named him "Man of the Year" and "America's Ghandi":
"And King, by some quality of that limpid voice or by some secret of cadence, exercises control as can few others over his audiences, black or white. He has proved this ability on countless occasions, ranging from the Negroes' huge summer March on Washington to a little meeting one recent Friday night in Gadsden, Ala. There, the exchange went like this:
King: I hear they are beating you!
Response: Yes, yes.
King: I hear they are cursing you!
Response: Yes, yes.
King: I hear they are going into your homes and doing nasty things and beating you!
Response: Yes, yes.
King: Some of you have knives, and I ask you to put them up. Some of you may have arms, and I ask you to put them up. Get the weapon of nonviolence, the breastplate of righteousness, the armor of truth, and just keep marching."

As I read his acceptance speech, I was immediately struck by the directness of his message. Right after he addresses the dignitaries, he puts it all out there:

"I accept the Nobel Prize for Peace at a moment went 22 inmllion Negroes of the United States of America are engaged in a creative battle to end the long night of racial injustice...only yeseterday ...our children..were answered with fire hoses, snarling dogs and even death...young people...were brutilized and murdered...houses of worship were bombed or burned...I am mindful that debiliitation and grinding poverty afflicts my people and chains them to the lowest rung of the economic ladder." 

Read the full text of Dr. King's nobel peace prize acceptance speech here:  http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-acceptance.html

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