January 16, 2012

Native reflections on Dr. King

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: Our Nation was Born in Genocide

By Levi RickertWhile Dr. King happened to be an African American, his leadership and dream transcended racial boundaries. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American leader.

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.”
United Tribes celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day with speakers, activities

By Mara Van Ells"We are a part of Martin Luther King Jr. Day," United Tribes President David Gipp told the crowd Monday morning. "It is a very important part of our lives because he sought people rights for everyone ... He is, in a lot of ways, like our Indian leaders."

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.
Honor MLK and Native Civil Rights Leaders

By Ernest L. Stevens, Jr.The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) honors the strength and perseverance of our civil rights leaders, especially the unwavering strength and determination of Dr. Martin Luther King, 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.
Comment:  For more on King, see Choctaw Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and Bin Laden, Geronimo, and King.

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