The legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the ongoing fight for equality

Posted at 5:42 PM, Jan 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-16 20:57:58-05

Peace, love, and unity are just some of the ideals the world associates with Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior.

On this day to celebrate his life and legacy, the Chicago chapter of Black Lives Matter is starting a new trend. Young activists across the country who want to shift the conversation about their heroic leader. They call him a "radical" and a "fighter", some even call him an "agitator".

More than half a century after the famous "I have a dream speech" many young black activists said while the nation had come a long way, there was still a lot of racial unrest. 

The Chicago chapter is pushing the #ReclaimMLK hashtag on Twitter, claiming Martin Luther King Day would allow activists to "engage about the real radical King they don't want you to know about!"

Phoenix activist Pastor Warren Stewart, Jr. said he agreed with the effort taking place by the Chicago chapter and felt the mainstream media had tried to "sanitize" and "white wash" Dr. King's legacy.

Stewart pointed out that King has been arrested several times in his fight for civil rights, and that he also preached about resistance and strength, as much as he preached about peace.

Stewart pointed toward several quotes by Dr. King in support of that.  Such as "One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws" and "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

However, some activists in Phoenix disagree, saying even when he had to be "forceful" with his message, Dr. King was always civil and pushed for peace as a way to end strife, instead of conflict.

John Goodie, a leader with the MLK Celebration committee in Mesa said he supported the Black Lives Matter movement and agreed that Dr. King was a strong fighter and a warrior in turbulent times, he did not support the effort to "reclaim" MLK and rebrand King's legacy.

"They will never reclaim MLK day.  They're my younger brothers and sisters. I admire them for what they're doing. I've even marched in the streets of Phoenix with them a few times," said Goodie.

He added that King would have applauded their fight for civil rights today.

Pastor Isaac Johnson with Royal Priesthood International Assembly in Tempe said he did not support the "reclaimMLK" effort either.

"I don't think any attempt to associate him with violence is going to succeed," said Johnson.

"We are unnerved by a situation or circumstance that would take love out of the equation. First and foremost, Martin Luther King was a man of love, he wanted that love to embrace everybody. Let's affirmatively reason together, talk together, and allow love to rule the day," said Johnson.