Today is a special day. On this day many years ago a person was born that changed my life. When this person came into the world they had no clue they were hand selected to affect my life in a way no one else ever would. I don’t know where I would be without this person and I am forever grateful for their time on this earth.
They are no longer with us, but their legacy lives through me. Their legacy lives through my son and it also lives through my daughter. The sacrifices they made are paying great dividends. They left their mark.
I am grateful for January 15, 1956.
That is the date my mother was born. Today is my mother’s birthday. It is also my uncle’s birthday. My Uncle Green was an elementary teacher for 37 years. These two great people share a birthday with a great man named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King was born in 1929 and was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. He was only 39 years old. What impact have you made in your 39 years? Have you helped anyone?
Have you stood up for what you believe in? Have you contributed to society, your family, your community or your church?
Dr. King was an amazing man. Of course I never met him, he died nine years before I was born. However, I have read many books on Dr. King and I have watched several documentaries on the Christian minister and activist from Atlanta, Georgia.
When Reverend King was a young minister he stumbled upon a role he was born to hold. He became the most visible spokesperson and leader of the Civil Right Movement. This movement started shortly after he became Pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
Dr. King was well known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience which he learned from a lawyer named Mahatma Gandhi. King was extraordinary. Our world has seen some great men and women who put themselves in harm’s way in an effort to help others. Our military, police, firefighters and medical personnel have adopted this as their norm.
Dr. King left his normal life of safety and privilege to answer a calling for something greater. Along the way he accomplished so much.
In 1955 Dr. King led the Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 he became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He led many protests including the 1963 March on Washington in which he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
This speech was given in August 1963 in front of 250,000 people that gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. This event was also known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The purpose of this event was to draw attention to continuing challenges and inequalities faced by African Americans a century after emancipation. This is one of the most famous speeches of all time.
On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. A couple months later he gave his acceptance speech in the auditorium of the University of Oslo on December 10, 1964 in Norway.
In Norway, he used his platform to remind those in attendance about the injustice in the African American community. There are many ways to make a difference and so many have made a difference.
People like Dr. King, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and Mahatma Gandhi are special. They are on another level.
However, I believe there is a man in Montgomery, Alabama who is on track to be in the same conversation as these great servants.
Bryan Stevenson is a lawyer, social justice activist, founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law.
There is a movie out right now called Just Mercy which tells the story of one of his most famous cases. I believe Mr. Stevenson is a giant for inequality.
Willie Spears is a teacher, coach, author, minister and motivational speaker. He has been awarded teacher and coach of the year. He speaks to thousands each year through his business The Willie Spears Experience. Willie may be reached at www.williespears.com.