A few days after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 87 years old, we remember his spirit, contributions, and the tremendous impact he made on both American lives and our culture.
Last year for MLK Day, Bernard Lafayette, a cofounder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and protege of Dr. King in the the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, spoke with CBS Evening News about the continuing influence of his mentor and the continued struggle for change through nonviolence.
LaFayette, author of In Peace and Freedom: My Journey in Selma, took the directorship of the Alabama Voter Registration Project in Selma at just the age of 22. He first met Dr. King as a student in Nashville, and again in Raleigh after founding SNCC. The following description of his second meeting with Dr. King comes from his memoir, In Peace and Freedom:
“When I talked with Dr. King, I was always inspired by his words. I felt uplifted, buoyed by his presence. When the Nashville students and I arrived in Raleigh to join ranks with his organization, SCLC, I was bursting with youthful enthusiasm. We were also joined by some of our northern support groups with a mixture of white and black individuals, all committed to a common cause. There was electricity in the air, the desire to join with others who had been jailed or beaten. Such meetings reinforced the notion that we were not alone; this collection of college students was bonded by our experiences, dedication, and determination.”
In Peace and Freedom is now available in paperback, and Lafayette is coeditor of the forthcoming The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North.