Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at the Montgomery March. (Photo courtesy PhotosForClass.com)
Ivy Tech is giving away three scholarships for artwork entered into the Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Project, an ARTivism exhibition to honor King’s legacy.
ARTivism is artwork that doubles as activism, meant to increase awareness on a particular topic. Project submissions are juried and will be featured in a traveling exhibit at Ivy Tech campuses throughout the state during January and February. Entries are due by noon Nov. 18 to the Student Life office. Find full project details online.
The top three pieces will receive scholarships: $400 for first place, $300 for second, and $200 for third.
The project celebrates King, the activist who led the Civil Rights Movement, which started in the mid 1960s as an effort for black citizens to secure their right to vote without roadblocks, but the struggle for equality is still alive today, seen most notably in the Black Lives Matter movement, says Lisa Beringer, an Ivy Tech Northeast assistant sociology professor. Beringer studies the ways black “writers and thinkers use non-violent means to resist the persistent presence of racism and discrimination,” and she shares a post with us to tell why King’s history and legacy is still not just important—but vital.
King did not start the Civil Rights Movement alone: He was part of a larger coalition of people and groups seeking non-violent responses to the denial of civil rights. King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, worked in conjunction with the Alabama Voting Rights Project and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the effort to secure the vote promised under the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution and the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
After months of planning, the groups decided to march from Selma to Montgomery to ask for legislation that would protect the right to vote at the local and state levels. On March 7, 1965, 600 marchers set out across the Edmond Pettis Bridge, only to be met with violence by the police in what would come to be known as “Bloody Sunday.”
Alabama state troopers swing billy clubs to break up a civil rights voting march in Selma, Ala., on March 7, 1965. In the foreground, John Lewis is struck in the head, for which he is later hospitalized. (Photo courtesy PhotosForClass.com)
(Photo courtesy PhotosForClass.com)
Click on images to zoom and for caption info.
The next day, King spoke on the need for courage.
“Deep down in our non-violent creed is the conviction there are some things so dear, some things so precious, some things so eternally true, that they’re worth dying for. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”
King implored the people sitting in the pews of the church to stand against fear, to stand for justice or risk being dead in spirit.
“So we’re going to stand up amid horses. We’re going to stand up right here in Alabama, amid the billy-clubs. We’re going to stand up right here in Alabama amid police dogs, if they have them. We’re going to stand up amid tear gas. We’re going to stand up amid anything they can muster up, letting the world know that we are determined to be free.”
Martin Luther King Jr., and Harry Belafonte at the Montgomery March. (Photo courtesy PhotosForClass.com)
The following day, King and the protestors set out again, but King stopped the march when he grew worried about their safety. Later that night, James Reeb, a Unitarian minister who had traveled to Selma to march in solidarity, was murdered. King worked to secure the safety of those organized by the three civil rights groups to march without retribution.
Finally, on March 21, under the protection of the National Guard, 2,000 people began the long march to Montgomery. They walked for five days, 12 hours a day, until they reached their destination on March 25 and were greeted by 50,000 supporters. Their push to demand the vote was finally acknowledged with the passage of the Voting Rights Act, signed into law on Aug. 6, 1965. Through their commitment to non-violent protest, the groups were able to prompt Congress to enact legislation that upheld the right of black Americans to vote at the federal, state, and local level.
Today, black Americans continue to stand up and resist the institutional practices of racism and discrimination. King’s legacy of non-violent resistance can be most notably found in the present-day movement Black Lives Matter. Leaders of this new civil rights effort are working to further equality for blacks who continue to experience unequal treatment and economic disparities that often result in violence. This new civil rights movement—an extension of that which came before—is working toward a variety of goals:
- To foster inclusion and discussion between seemingly disparate groups
- To create restorative justice and place these actions within a global context
- To include of issues of gender, sexual orientation, disability, poverty, and immigrant status experienced by the diverse community of black Americans
Click on images to zoom. (Photos courtesy PhotosForClass.com.)
As if to echo King’s call for bravery in the face of fear, Black Lives Matter claims the following principle: “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
Through the power of social media, these present day civil rights activists are able to overcome the limits set by geographic boundaries in order to facilitate peaceful resistance, and hopefully social change, in the modern moment.