Lessons From Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy of Resistance

LaRae Long Global Citizen, Latest Headlines

Photo credit: Horace Cort/AP

This article was substantially edited to reflect recent events.

In the last few years, the true scale of police brutality against Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color (BIPOC) has been revealed to the American public. The death of Trayvon Martin spawned the Black Lives Matter movement, which grew to prominence as a seemingly endless procession of Black people were killed by people in law enforcement: Freddy Gray, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, to name a few.

Over the course of 2020, protests featuring up to 26 million people exploded across the US in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. The vast majority of the protests were peaceful even as police intimidated and attacked groups exercising their constitutional rights.

Peaceful protesting has a long history in the US. Martin Luther King Jr., in particular, championed peaceful protesting to help secure civil rights for Black people.