The terrible violence perpetrated by Trump supporters on the Capitol of the United States which resulted in five deaths caused by protestors carrying American flags and even some Confederate flags is a powerful reminder of why we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The protests led by Dr. King were peaceful despite the protestors being beaten and spat upon, pushed back by powerful sprays from water hoses, and attacked by vicious dogs. And through it all, no one struck back. That took courage and showed strength, unlike the cowardice of the crowds that rushed into the Capitol looking to do damage to property and people protected only by a small contingent of capitol police. 

Dr. King’s protests were for a just cause, equal protection under the law and an end to discrimination, not the fantasy promoted by President Trump that he won by a landslide and the election was stolen from him. 

Dr. King had history on his side beginning with slavery, segregation and Jim Crow laws which mandated the segregation of public schools, public places, and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants, and drinking fountains between white and black people which were upheld by the United States Supreme Court in the Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson decisions. 

As a result of the courage of the civil rights demonstrators led by Dr. King, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, and later adopted to include sexual orientation and gender identity was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Banes Johnson. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, racial segregation in schools and public accommodations, and employment discrimination.

President Trump and his supporters who caused mayhem and death on January 6th in a futile attempt to overturn duly certified state electors should have learned from Dr. King that first you have to have a just cause and then act peacefully on its behalf. That’s why we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the third Monday of January to honor his birthday, January 15th. It’s fitting this year that we honor Dr. King the same week that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in as President and Vice President.