January 16, 2018 In celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday and in advance of February’s Black History Month, the U.S. Embassy partnered with Mali’s Teacher Training College (ENSup) to commemorate King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech. Consular Chief Andrew Partin gave a talk on King’s iconic speech at the Lincoln Memorial for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and how King urged America to “make real the promises of democracy.” Mr. Partin clarified how Dr. King captured both the necessity for change and the potential for hope in American society. The U.S. Embassy Symposium included a film screening of the iconic “ I Have a Dream” speech followed by a question and answer session. Mr. Partin, provided cultural and historical context to the 150 students and teachers of English. Partin’s discussion explored with the students and faculty members Dr. King’s principles, and the need to speak up and bring people together to advance equality and human rights through peaceful protest.
Cultural Affairs Officer Emma Moros in her interviews with local press, ORTM Television, print journalists and bloggers stressed the importance of non-violent protest and education in advancing society quoting King, ““The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Public Affairs Officer Wendy Barton shared with the students the power of Dr. King’s spoken words and how they served to galvanize the civil rights movement, and to motivate African Americans to organize to seek justice and equal economic opportunities. The event underscored the American people’s solidarity with our Malian friends in their quest for unity, stability, tolerance and peace for all Malians, north, south, east and west.
Americans observe the birth and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the third Monday of January. This federal holiday celebrates King’s invaluable contributions to promote racial equality in America. Born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929, King gained considerable prominence during the Montgomery Bus Boycott that resulted from Rosa Park’s refusal to obey a city ordinance and give up her seat on a bus to a white person. Following King’s involvement in the boycott, his name became synonymous with the American civil rights movement. He gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in the summer of 1963. At the time, African Americans in many places were segregated from whites in schools, shopping places and restaurants and on buses. Their attempts to register to vote in the South often were met with violence. King had begun a long campaign of nonviolent resistance to rectify these wrongs. In his “Dream” speech, King said his people would not be satisfied “until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” Less than one year later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, ending segregation practices.
King was greatly influenced by Gandhi and the idea of non-violent civil disobedience as a means of enacting social change. He was assassinated on April 4, 1968.