Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - 2013

The Kings at Home

Born in Atlanta, Martin Luther King, Jr. and his new wife Coretta moved to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 after King accepted a position as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

I've always loved these rare photos from TIME Magazine of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his family, because they remind me that people who do extraordinary things are usually completely ordinary people.


King explained in an interview that this photograph was taken as he tried to explain to his daughter Yolanda why she could not go to Funtown, a whites-only amusement park in Atlanta.

"One of the most painful experiences I have ever faced was to see her tears when I told her Funtown was closed to colored children, for I realized the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky."

Tense Moment

In this photograph, Coretta is upset with her husband, who had been attacked the night before by a disturbed white racist but had not defended himself. Though the police urged King to press charges, he refused.

After being violently attacked by a young, white racist and urged by the police (and his wife, Coretta) to press charges, King replied:

"The system we live under creates people such as this youth. I'm not interested in pressing charges. I'm interested in changing the kind of system that produces such men." 

When I read words like these, that are so incredibly strong and convicted even to the point of accepting violence against himself and his family, everything about MLK Jr. starts seeming larger than life, or ethereal, or kind of mystically great. What ordinary person would be able to sustain such beliefs about nonviolence when his own life, and the lives of his innocent children, are threatened?

However, when I see such intimate, everyday photos of the King family, I am reminded that truly extraordinary people are often quite ordinary and human. It makes me think -- what am I doing, as an ordinary person, to change the system?

I hope you enjoy your Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, and I hope you are inspired by King's words and pictures from his life as much as I am. :)

[All photos and information from TIME Magazine.]

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