Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday Celebration - Luncheon
JANUARY 18, 2021 (MONDAY)
MLK’s vision of non-violence as a means resisting oppression and all forms of discrimination is as relevant today as it was 70 years ago. Through non-violence MLK impacted race relations in the US and set the stage for the US Congress to reverse segregation in the South and improve wages across America.
In Africa, Ghana features very prominently in the African struggle against oppression in Africa and the US, because MLK was invited to Ghana two years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, from 1955 to Dec 1956, where Blacks were prevented from riding in the front of the bus, could not work as bus drivers and were frequently short changed on bus rides. During this period, 75% of the bus riders were black but all the drivers were white.
On Dec 21, 1956, the US Supreme Court eventually outlawed segregation on Montgomery bus system.
US Vice-President Richard M. Nixon (C) and Dr. Martin Luther King (R) in Ghana
On January 10, 1957, two months before his trip to Ghana, MLK formed the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), to coordinate and support nonviolent direct action as a method of desegregating bus systems across the Southern states of the US.
President Eisenhower cabled and wonderful letter to Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah, which set the tone for cordial relationships that has existed between Ghana and the US until today. Eisenhower saw Ghana’s independence as a source of pride and satisfaction to the US and for all free nations.
President Kwame Nkrumah (L) and Dr. Martin Luther King (L) in Ghana
On March 4th, 1957, a day after arriving in Ghana, at a reception before independence, MLK met US Vice-President Richard Nixon and invited to visit Alabama andsee the plight and struggles of African Americans wanting the same freedom and independence that he has come to Ghana to witness.
Four things stand out in MLK’s visit to Ghana
King fell ill on his visit to Ghana
King said that the independence of Ghana would have worldwide implications, not only in Africa and Asia, but in the US
King called on educated African Americans to lend technical assistance to this new growing nation – Ghana
King met face to face with Vice President Nixon
From Accra, MLK traveled to Kano, Italy, London before returning to the US.
Back in the US, King delivered many speeches about his experience in Ghana.
MLK delivered his I have a Dream Speech in Washington DC in 1963. This speech moved congress to action and in 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act was also passed by Congress.
In 1968, whilst in Memphis to protest unfair wages paid Africa American workers, MLK was shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
Even though Congress has passed laws against discrimination still many major cities in the US have low income sections that struggle with gun violence and poverty.
Despite these challenges, America elected a black president in 2008. Interesting, President Obama chose Ghana as the site for his speech and visit to Africa. At his speech in Accra, President Obama said Africa need strong civil society organizations and not strong men. This in a way is what FONAA is about, creating an institution that will train the next generation of leaders to deal with the challenges Africa faces.
It is therefore with great pride that FONAA plans a luncheon in honor of MLK.