By Levi Rickert
The effects of his work impacted the lives of all Americans.
For instance, the passage of the momentous Civil Rights Act of 1964 benefited American Indians and Latinos, as well as African Americans. We can now go places we could not go prior to 1964. We can now stay in motels we could not stay in prior to 1964.
Prior to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, American Indians were not allowed in many establishments simply because we were Indians. Many establishments prominently displayed signs that read:
“No Indians or Dogs Allowed”
in various parts of this country. There is a major difference between an Indian and a dog, I may add.
One Ottawa elder recalls, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became a federal law, business proprietors, who owned restaurants, motels and shops, in the upper portion of Michigan's Lower Peninsula held a meeting to discuss
“What they were going to do now that they had to serve Indians.”
By Mara Van Ells
Keynote speaker Chase Iron Eyes gave a brief history of the civil rights movement and its leaders, including Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. He emphasized King's dedication to nonviolent protests.
"Civil disobedience is a very powerful tool," Iron Eyes said. "We see it today in the Occupy movement."
He spoke also of Native American struggles to attain civil rights.
"In the same way that the black struggle had a peaceful arm and a forceful arm, our struggle did as well," he said, noting the National Indian Youth Council, formed in the 1960s and the American Indian Movement, which formed in 1968.
By Ernest L. Stevens, Jr.
This was a man who had a vision to bring economic equality to his people and to the Nation. He was instrumental in helping end racial segregation and racial discrimination through nonviolent means.
Through Reverend King’s vision, we know that our people should be measured not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.