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article image50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize

By Natty Walker     Dec 10, 2014 in Politics
Oslo - Americans are currently engaged in a countrywide debate about racism and police brutality. Ironically, today marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr. being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
On this day 50 years ago, King was recognized for his effectiveness as a human rights activist when he was awarded a Nobel Prize. Nearly five decades ago, African-Americans marched in Washington to protest racism and segregation in the United States. Recent events demonstrate there is still much dissension between Americans regarding race. However, Dr. King is remembered for changing countless lives through the power of his words.
December 10, 1964 was the day King was honored with the ultimate "prize" for a human rights activist. Perhaps, though, the greatest prize came earlier that year when President Johnson signed a law banning racial discrimination. These and other historic events occurred nearly a decade after King began his journey as a leader peacefully supporting African-American civil rights. However, his powerful speaking abilities and strong following made him a major target of Civil Rights Movement opponents. He was stalked, harassed, threatened, arrested, and eventually murdered four years after accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.
Though not nearly as famous as his "I Have a Dream" speech, King's "Nobel Lecture" was another memorable monologue. The latter was delivered approximately one year after the iconic speech often credited with turning the tide of the Civil Rights Movement. Excerpts unique to his "Nobel Lecture" are just as poignant today as on this day 50 years ago. King 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.
Still, racism and discrimination are considered major issues in the United States. In a recent interview, President Obama stated, "This is something that is deeply rooted in our society, it's deeply rooted in our history." Police shootings and brutality of unarmed African-American men, such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner, have reignited the debate of these "deeply rooted" problems. Some protesters in Ferguson even resorted to violence and vandalism in response to a grand jury's decision not to indict the officer responsible for shooting Michael Brown. Dr. King, however, believed in peace. He said, "Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. [...] It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones."
Fifty years have passed, but there is still much to be discussed if King's dream is truly to be accomplished. Growing unrest and dissension have angered many Americans, but King's philosophy was peace. During his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, King stated "[...] peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold." Today marks the 50th anniversary of an important milestone in human rights; it should be celebrated.
More about Martin Luther King, Nobel peace prize, Anniversary
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