The United States Consulate, Lagos, held its annual programme to mark the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, penultimate week. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an American federal holiday that celebrates the official Birthday of the renowned African American human rights activist, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King has remained a symbol of non-violent activism, a strategy through which his civil rights movement successfully protested racial discrimination in the federal and state laws of the United States of America.
Soon after his assassination in 1968, the campaign for a federal holiday in Rev. King’s honour started and it was not until 1983, that President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law. As it is customary, a documentary film is screened to showcase the ideologies of the activist. In Memory of Martin Luther King Jr. was the title of documentary film that was screened to the delight of the mixed audience that attended the 2015 celebration.
The event which was organised by the Public Affairs Section of the Consulate, as usual, brought to the fore, the life and struggles of the late renowned activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr, for the emancipation of his people.
The event which marked the 86th birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., attracted people from different parts of Lagos who gathered at the consulate to remember and reflect on the life of this great black man whose non-violent struggles gave blacks the freedom they now enjoy in America. The programme also presented Luther as good model whose struggles are filled with lessons that Nigerians could learn from as they continue in the quest for credible elections as well as good governance.
Screening of the documentary, In Memory of Martin Luther King which declared the programme open, exposed the life of Martin Luther King as a major reference point in the political struggle of any nation. His speeches as well as some protests he organised, all contributed in sensitising Nigerians at the event, on the importance of ensuring that the country enjoys a non-violent election come February.
The documentary film features family members, friends and former classmates of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who relate their memories of the civil rights activist. They include; Coretta Scott King, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Carter, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dick Gregory, Ralph Abernathy, Desmond Tutu, Edward Kennedy, Julian Bond and of course, Martin Luther King Jr.
“Injustice anywhere threatens justice somewhere,” “the death of any man diminishes me because I am for mankind,” “an eye for an eye makes everyone blind,” “If you don’t overcome the fear of death, you are not free,” were some of the quotes of Martin Luther King, which are directly speaking to the conscience of Nigerians as the nation embarks on another vital exercise to ensure a smooth change of government. The Public Affairs Officer, Mrs Ronda Watson who piloted the event expressed gratitude to participants for sharing the ideologies of the social activist.