Today is the Martin Luther King Jr. Day which is celebrated to commemorate the late American human rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy to the world. Over 40 years after his death, his impact still flares highly, providing inspiration and methods for generations of human rights defenders all around the world.
Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) was the leading figure of the civil rights movement demanding equal rights for different races in the United States. MLK’s struggle achieved many advances in the rights of African Americans and emancipated the black population from centuries’ long negligence and mistreatment. His fight also paved the way for the election of Barack Obama as the president of the United States three decades after his death.
However, possibly even more important than his tangible achievements, MLK gave the oppressed and most vulnerable the ways to strive for their rights peacefully against the strong. His principles of non-violence invented a new form of social activism. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of non-violence includes: believing in the justness of the cause, targeting to defeat injustice without harming, accepting sufferance without retaliating, aiming to conquer hate with love and believing that in the end justice will win. These ideals have influenced human rights activists, protestors and common people around the world.
Martin Luther King’s legacy is evident in ITEI’s “Prevención de la Violencia Intracarcelaria” project which aims to reduce intra-prison violence and spread the message of non-violence in three prisons of La Paz. Indeed, MLK’s teachings are featured in the project’s workshops that aim to change the prevailing violent culture and behavioural norms to consist of non-violent values, such as compassion, dialogue and toleration. Besides, MLK’s influence extends to inspiring us to defend and struggle for human rights.
20th of January 2020
Valtteri Nurminen, ITEI Volunteer