HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Monday will mark 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King’s funeral was held. Dr. King was 39-years-old when he was assassinated in Memphis in 1968. It was a horrific day for the nation.
“There was so much living he didn’t get a chance to do and so much good that he didn’t get a chance to do because of that,” Historian Thomas Reidy explained.
Reidy sees Dr. King’s legacy differently than most. He said the Parkland inspired marches are a great example.
“I think it goes back to his letter from the Birmingham jail where he said that there are four stages of protest,” Reidy said.
The first stage, he said, is the investigation. “Know what you are talking about, know that there is a problem, you have to do your work,” Reidy explained.
After that, negotiation. “Get in front of people. What can we do? What can we make happen?” Reidy said.
The third stage is somewhat of a spiritual cleansing. It’s remembering why you’re involved and staying true.
“It’s like going into battle, so there were rules of engagement and they practiced it. They would go up to a young man and say if someone spits on you what do you do? The final stage is direct action. You actually get off your butt and go march,” Reidy said.
Reidy said he sees Dr. King when there’s passive resistance anywhere.
“You’re always going to have plenty of people who are going to want to fight fire with fire, and King had this broader vision. He always looked past that next step. He saw that violence just escalates,” Reidy explained.