“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”- MLK Jr.
Fifty years from today, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He would have been 89-years-old and as we remember his life, it’s easy to gloss over all of the hardships he and his fellow civil rights activists endured and just skip to the end result. Contrary to the rosy picture painted in history books and by films like Selma, we have to remember that Dr. King was not well liked by the government, or even by all Civil rights leaders and activists. Like most people trying to make change, he and his family were harassed by police, in 1963 he spent 11 days in a Birmingham jail, and he was depicted as a violent agitator despite his calls for non-violence – sound familiar? What he was proposing to the segregated South was considered absolute madness, a madness we still see in Southern State’s resistance to removing confederate statues, their penchant for voter suppression laws, and willingness to vote for child molesters.
Dr. King’s memory has become a point of pride and a jumping off point for race relations in the U.S., which have struggled tremendously in the last year thanks to you know who. It’s easy to look around and feel like nothing has changed, especially since Black and Brown Americans are still fighting for their basic human rights and dignity every day. But Dr. King’s teachings continue to inform the mission of social activists all across this great nation of ours and beyond, here are nine Latina activists that are carrying on his legacy by fighting for the things that matter.