King’s legacy celebrated at MIT

King’s legacy celebrated at MIT

February 10, 2011 | David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

CNN's Roland Martin, at annual MLK Jr. breakfast, says the civil rights leader’s example of personal commitment and nonviolence lives on.

CNN analyst Roland Martin delivered the keynote address during MIT’s 37th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration.  Photo: Dominick Reuter

In his keynote address at MIT’s 37th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast Celebration on Wednesday, CNN analyst Roland Martin said that King’s spirit, idealism and commitment to personal action are alive today, as exemplified by the protests that have erupted on the streets of Egypt over the last few weeks.

“The folks in Egypt are trying nonviolence” in their bid for freedom and democracy, and in doing so are following in King's footsteps, Martin said. Emphasizing the important role that young people can play, including the many students gathered at the breakfast, Martin pointed out that it is “the young folks in Egypt driving this entire movement.” He said that this impassioned effort by the young echoes the work of King, who, when he was elected to lead the incipient civil rights movement in Montgomery, Ala., in the 1950s, was still in his twenties — as were many of the other leaders of the movement at the time. These young people, Martin said, were willing to take chances that many of their elders feared to take.

He pointed out that it was a high-school student who carried out the first lunch-counter sit-in in the segregated south in the ’50s, and then four college students who began a sustained series of sit-ins that lasted more than a year and was a major turning point of the growing civil rights movement. “All of a sudden a movement went all across the south, all because four college students decided to do something,” he said. And the whole nation started to pay attention “when the fire hoses and the dogs were turned on the children."

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