“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
MLK Day this year happens on a day that Dr. King led a march for voting rights. The would-be voters weren’t actually allowed to register to vote, as per the wayward prevailing attitude of the time, but this particular Jan. 18 march was one of the many Selma to Montgomery marches that ultimately led to the historic Voting Rights Act. This Act outlawed racial discrimination in voting.
Today, however, is Jan. 15, a few days before that march, but it is the date of Dr. King’s birth. Much has been written about the man who led the African American Civil Rights Movement and who was instrumental in broadening the scope of civil rights for all Americans.
The U.S. Bill of Rights
The concept of “civil rights” has been around for quite some time. One of the earliest, in the Roman era, was freedom of religion. The U.S. Bill of Rights is a more recent and direct example. It consists of the first 10 Constitutional amendments that enumerate many individual liberties; among those liberties are the freedom of speech (in the First Amendment), the right to keep and bear arms (in the Second), and the right against unreasonable search and seizure (in the Fourth).
Dr. King’s Contribution to Civil Rights
Unfortunately, American history is not without its flaws, and few of those flaws are more severe than the flaw of racial discrimination and its overt form: segregation. In leading the movement with his brand of civil disobedience – nonviolent resistance – Dr. King brought forth a new era of civil rights that we now celebrate, embodied in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.