Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bullying

When I was working on Bystander (Fall, 2009), a book that centers on bullying, I kept running across different quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. He would often express the same idea in subtle variations. In essence, Dr. King issued an indictment against the tyranny of silence, reminding us all of our responsibility to speak up. King believed in the common good. He had an abiding faith in his fellow man. If only we would all stand up and be heard, then justice and democracy and human kindness would surely prevail over cruelty and prejudice.

That’s partly why I named the book, Bystander. Not bully. Not victim. I wanted the focus to be on the overwhelming majority of us who stand by as mute witness; and how we are, therefore, complicit in acts of cruelty, our silence a form of tacit agreement. For responsibility is nothing if not an “ability” to “respond.” That’s where we find hope for real change. In our voices.

Here’s a few relevant quotes from Dr. King:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but because conscience tells one it is right.”

This brief, one-minute clip is from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s last speech. He knew what was coming, he knew.

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2 comments

  1. kayla:) says:

    the book bystander was amazing and teaches kids a great lession

  2. Sharon Joy Shoatz says:

    In todays year of 2017, I am so saddened that our future leaders have no idea what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Really stood for.
    They are still fighting in the classrooms, still killing each other in the neighborHOODS, they could care less about community service.
    They are embarresed if they receive the letter “A” grade in the classroom, in fear of being bullied or considered a NERD amongst their peers.
    So many children HEARTS are harden from watching their Mother , Father, Sister , Brother, Cousins, Neighbors being cold bloodily shot down in the HOOD by the Leaders we are to TRUST.
    Someone please give me some suggestions on how to reach our children in reference to REALLY understanding who Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “IS” and “Was”!
    If the spelling is incorrect, overlook it and STILL get the message .
    Submitted.
    JOYS 4 U

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