Today we honor and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., arguably the most recognizable leader in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s for advancing civil rights, specifically Black civil rights, through nonviolence and civil disobedience.
In 1964 Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combatting racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. During that speech, he said,
“Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”
This year has been filled with extremes and injustices that reached far and wide. It continues to shine a spotlight on the glaring contrasts that still exist, the simple truth that we have not made significant progress since Dr. King was assassinated 51 years ago, and the still desperate need for a beloved community (the theme and call to action for the 2021 Observance) guided by the pillars Dr. King fought for: peace, justice, equality, and love.
This year in light of the pandemic, gatherings look different as we congregate virtually on Zoom and FaceTime to celebrate holidays, weddings, funerals, and more. Yet, technology will afford us the opportunity to continue to connect with each other despite our circumstances.
As we reflect, we want to recognize a few in our own beloved community whom we think are using technology in a way that would make Dr. King proud–ways that enrich the lives of our community, make the world a better place morally and spiritually, and embrace nonviolence as Dr. King did.
The truth is, our students and our instructors inspire us every single day with their intelligence, determination, kindness, and resilience. This year, we were also encouraged by hiring partners and local city workforce partnerships that worked tirelessly to bring more individuals into the fold of the technology community. Below is a letter from one of our instructors, Gary Jackson, about the students who inspired him.
We’re not proud of where we are as a society today. But, still, we can’t help but feel hopeful that we have some extraordinary people in our beloved community already, and we’re welcoming more by the day.
You can read the full Nobel Peace Prize Speech Transcript, The Quest for Peace & Justice, here.
If you want more ways to get involved, consider donating money, time, or resources to The Martin Luther King Jr. Center For Nonviolent Social Change, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, or Building the Beloved Community (Habitat.org).