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January 12, 2021 - A Statement from the Executive Director

Photo of Dr. Martin Luther King

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On January 18, 2021, the nation will celebrate the work of the renowned civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr. Born on January 15, 1929, Dr. King, a Baptist minister, became a pivotal influence in the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1950s and 1960s. Dr. King awakened the Nation’s conscience about social injustice and inequality. He faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but his fortitude gave life to the pronouncement that “all men are created equal.” Dr. King’s efforts soured the nation’s taste for segregation and racial inequality.  Through his leadership and passion, Dr. King instigated a nonviolent movement that lead to the passage of laws that enforced desegregation of public accommodations, and outlawing discrimination in employment and publicly owned facilities; the same laws that we, at the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, are mandated to enforce. The movement also resulted in voting rights for all Americans and we have recently witnessed the power of that vote.

Dr. King was a visionary. He shared his vision in the speech he delivered on August 28, 1963. On that day, Dr. King delivered the infamous “I Have A Dream” speech before an interracial group of more than 200,000 at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. While he shared his vision that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” Dr. King was mindful to encourage those gathered to not let their fervor for a free and just nation for all Americans erupt into physical violence by saying:

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: in the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.” 

While Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was taken from us on April 4, 1968, his legacy lives on. But more importantly, the work for an equitable nation did not end with Dr. King, it continues with us.

Angela Phelps-White
Executive Director