The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., born January 15,
1929, was one of the most gifted leaders the country has known. Never
was that more evident than on a cold winter night in 1956 in
Montgomery, Alabama. King had left his wife and baby at home to attend a
meeting at a nearby church. As the meeting wound down, someone rushed
in with terrible news: “Your house has been bombed.”
King raced home and saw that the bomb had exploded on his front porch.
By now the house was full of people. He pushed his way inside and found
his family safe.
Outside, however, trouble was stirring. An angry crowd was gathering
and wanted revenge against whoever had done this. Several people
carried guns and broken bottles. They hurled insults at arriving
policemen. The situation was about to spin out of control. That’s when
King stepped onto his porch.
Silence fell over the crowd.
King told them in a calm voice that his family was all right. “I want
you to go home and put down your weapons,” he said. He told them
violence would not solve their problems; it would only harm their
cause. He reminded them of the teachings of the Bible: “We must meet
hate with love.”
Then something remarkable happened. “Amen,” someone said. “God bless
you,” others called. The crowd, which a moment ago had been on the
verge of violence, began to drift apart. A night that had been heading
toward chaos came to a quiet, if uneasy, close.
Dr. King spent his life meeting adversity with courage and love and
reminding his fellow Americans that “we must forever conduct our
struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” Good words to
remember on this day.