When you think of Martin Luther King Jr. what do you think of? Who do you think of? When I think of King, the first things that come to mind are things like the Civil Rights Movement, peaceful protest, turning the other cheek, loving thy neighbor even when they don’t love you back. I think of the coming together of people from different places, of different races, genders, and so on and so forth. Martin Luther King’s, “I Have A Dream” speech is often referenced and his utilization of peaceful protest are used as the blueprint today when injustice surfaces enough to gain media attention. Though it is important to note that he was not the first establish or exercise the idea or action of a peaceful protest; his impact and the way in which he used peaceful protesting to assist in moving things forward in America “for that time period” is not something that should be taken lightly or with a grain of salt.

While Martin Luther King Jr is an important figure within history and should be celebrated. I pose a question for you all. That is– what about the people around him? What about the people who assisted him in his journey? The people who carried him when he could not walk himself or when he was ready to give up– his village. Now this is not to say that we don’t acknowledge the many people around him in some form of fashion, but the way in which we remember is usually, I would say an end note compared to the way in which Martin is lifted up. We may not learn much about them when mentioned, other than a light overview of maybe how they met Martin, where they were from, and their experience working with Martin, but when asked what their names are I don’t feel many would be able to recall. I am not talking about the Jesse Jacksons and Stokely Carmichaels.

They walked, they fought, they were arrested. They sat at counters, got beat up in the streets. Consistently putting their life on the line for a cause that was not only important to who they were walking with, but a cause that affected many of them personally. We think of Martin and jump to peaceful protest, but don’t spend much time with the brutality that arose from these peaceful protests. The murders associated with these peaceful protests. The hurt and pain that came out of these peaceful protests. The sacrifice associated with these peaceful protests. The need of a village in order to continue these peaceful protests.

What am I getting at here? What’s the point? Well, anyone with a leadership position, I am sure can think of a time where things got hard, where they may not have known what to do or how to go about their next step and knowing that their next step impacts many, they hope to make the best decision knowing that it is not just about them. Those is leadership positions may also understand what is to make decisions that will require sacrifice. Decisions that no one wants to make, others are unable to make, and maybe even sometimes may hurt to make.

Having a village, recognizing that we are stronger together than apart. Understanding that two heads will always be better than one. We live in a state full of division, in a space where everyone has idea, an opinion, and everyone feels as though they are right. Martin Luther King Jr got nowhere by himself, he got nowhere being separate, or spouting division. He got nowhere alone—it took a village.

– Gloria Craig, LMM Community Engagement Coordinator