Martin Luther King Jr. Day
“During the short career of Martin Luther King Jr., between 1954 and 1968, the nonviolent civil rights movement lifted the patriotic spirit of the United States toward our defining national purpose,” writes Taylor Branch, a chronicler of those years. But it was a hard lifting. In the years after the dream speech there were racially motivated murders in the South and riots in large cities in the North. Dr. King, who had emerged as a national figure amid the moral clarity of the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott, found himself under attack from others in the civil rights movement for not pushing hard or fast enough, from the emerging black-power forces for being insufficiently “militant” and from people who disapproved of his emerging stands on the Vietnam war or economic issues. And then the King years ended in yet another atrocious act of violence — his assassination at a Memphis hotel. “Most of us will be grandparents before we can lead normal lives,” said one leader at the height of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s. He meant that the striving and agitating and the demonstrations were going to have to go on for a long, long time.