This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. In remembering that historic event, the first name that comes to mind to most people is Reverend Martin Luther King and his I Have a Dream Speech. But few know that the person responsible for a large part of the organization of that march and also for motivating King to his non violent method of activism was another civil rights activist, Bayard Rustin.
A few years ago a St. Louis non-profit organization, Beloved Streets of America, conducted a study about streets throughout the country which bear the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The study found the majority of MLK streets are unsafe and crime-ridden. Many are “located in distressed neighborhoods, considered areas where predominately poor blacks live, and viewed as places where whites and non-blacks seldom travel,” according to the organization.
Local dignitaries and politicians filled the rotunda of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis on Monday for the city's 44th annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
The city's celebration is the second-oldest in the country, behind only Atlanta. In addition to celebrating the slain civil rights leader, who would have been 83 on January 15th, most speakers also rejoiced in the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, who took the oath of office in Washington, DC as the proceedings took place.
Americans are well-aware of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. His fight for justice was aimed at changing the world, but during the fifties and sixties sought to resonate most heavily in his home country. Today his legacy has been celebrated tenfold – there are numerous streets and landmarks dedicated in his honor, the government designated his birthday as a national holiday in 1986, and just last year he became the first African American to have a monument designed in his honor on the National Mall.