Celebrating an Inspiring Life

  • "It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and non-violence. It is either non-violence or non-existence." ?Martin Luther King

By Ruth Handy

Pine Mountain–In the summer of 1966, at the age of 19, I felt very moved by Martin Luther King’s commitment to the ideal of non-violence.

I decided to honor this feeling, to overcome my fear and to join the open-housing marches led by Dr. King near Chicago, where I lived. I walked with others, including nuns, priests and ministers of many faiths. Even though police protected us—walking on both sides of our marchers—rocks were thrown at us, and some people were injured. We continued to have faith in our purpose of bringing equality to all without letting our minds think of violence or revenge.

We knew that Dr. King had been jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, where he wrote one of his most renowned speeches. He did not stop his activism and was not afraid despite receiving as many as fifty death threats a day for his efforts to fulfill the dream of white and black children living in community together. Toward the end of his life, Martin Luther King knew that he probably would not live to see the fulfillment of his dream. He was not disturbed. He had been granted a vision of an America free of racial tension and hatred.

Dr. King set a high standard for a purpose-driven life of faith. He followed the principles of Jesus. He studied and honored Mahatma Gandhi, who helped bring independence to India through nonviolence.

As a resident of Pine Mountain today, I continue to feel great admiration for Dr. King’s courage. He helped establish in America that all people are created equal. There are no longer hidden barriers for people of color to own homes even in remote areas such as our Mountain Communities. We do not have to be afraid.

King taught us that non-violence can remain a goal uppermost in our minds when facing difficulties with our neighbors, fellow students or even people driving the freeway near us.

Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965.

His “I have a dream” speech from August, 1963 at the Washington Monument is shown on TV every year near his birthday.

This is part of the January 12, 2007 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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