January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968
I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land! I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land.
An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
In the 11 years 1957 -1968 King traveled over six million miles and spoke over 2,500 times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; while also writing five books. He led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience and inspiring his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” a manifesto of the African American revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of blacks as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C.. of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, “I have a Dream,” he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson, he was arrest more than 20 times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.
At the age of 35, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money, $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.
On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city he was assassinated.
(excerpt from the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize biography)
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of good people.
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but refuse to hate him.
This picture is a needlepoint portrait from my “Persons of Interest” series. The title is a play on the phrase because the subjects of these portraits are people who have drawn the negative attention of governments and others who felt threatened by them, as well as being of particular interest to me because of how much they inspire me to be a better person and to dedicate myself to help other people. Portraits are approximate three feet square with 130,000 stitches and require 160 hours to complete.