By Toney Collins
At the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s martyrdom for the cause of justice and equality, I stood with other members of Georgia’s MLK Advisory Council at the former white supremacist stronghold of Stone Mountain and participated in the announcement of a new educational initiative to teach Dr. King’s non-violent principles to a new generation of Americans.
There is no greater American authority on the destructive nature of violence than Martin Luther King Jr. There is also no better place to go for the cure to rising levels of hatred and violence than the teachings of Dr. King. A half century after he gave his life for the cause of social justice, Dr. King’s commitment to non-violent social change has been validated by decades of social science research.
One source of Dr. King’s greatness was his understanding of the transcendent reality of human dignity. Dr. King knew that the dignity of the human person demands that we respect the humanity of those with whom we disagree; therefore, he modeled loving one’s enemies and overcoming evil with good.
This is why I support this expanding national initiative to teach Dr. King’s non-violent social justice philosophy to a new generation.
The time has come to recognize that Dr. King’s timeless principles are an essential educational foundation and a proven pathway for productive citizenship and change in our democratic society.
Fortunately, under the leadership of Dr. Matthew Daniels of Good of All and a growing network of national leaders including Ambassador Andrew Young, these innovative new MLK curricula are reaching students in schools across our nation. The impact has proven to inspire students, increase their empathy for others, and demonstrate self-empowerment as torchbearers for Dr. King’s vision of social justice.
While no significant social problem can be solved overnight, we must make a concerted effort now to reinvigorate ideas that are the best cure for the rising tide of violence and division in our nation. America cannot shine a light for freedom and human rights around the world if we have failed to teach the principles that allow for social justice, democracy and peace at home.
Since the MLK curriculum seeks to inspire a digital generation, the courses equip and encourage students to advance nonviolent civil rights principles in the digital age and within online platforms. Both versions of the MLK curricula are also best taught online – a further advantage in the context of a pandemic.
It would be a travesty to see our nation go down the path of endless cycles of political and social violence that have characterized the histories of so many countries in our world. And this is why we’re very encouraged to see the cross-section of national and state leaders coming together behind this effort to shine an educational light in the darkness of our times. And, as we move forward nationally, we believe this educational re-invigoration of unifying teachings of one of America’s greatest leaders will continue to build partnerships across all boundary lines.
Dr. King’s teachings have wide and deep resonance in the human heart and spirit. They offer hope for a world weary of hatred and violence. Let us all work together for the day when America will produce a new generation of Dr. Kings who can be a blessing to our nation and a light of hope for the entire world.
About Toney Collins
Toney Collins serves on the Board of Georgia’s MLK Advisory Council and is a member of the Board of Advisors of Good of All (www.goodofall.org).
Last updated on October 18, 2022