• yarbroughconsultan

Fighting the War

Updated: Jan 16

By: Deja Monee Price

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a revolutionary leader whose civil rights activism and ministry impacted lives and left a lasting legacy. To this day, his quotes on social injustices are tweeted, written on signs, exhibited at protests, and held closely to the hearts of millions. Let’s take a deeper look into two of Rev. Dr. MLK , Jr.’s popular quotes:


“Darkness can not drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

And

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”


Dr. King attempted suicide twice before the age of 13 and fought several bouts of severe depression as an adult. Now, just imagine-being one of the symbolic faces of the U.S Civil Rights Movement, organizing key events and protests, surviving from constant threats and surveillance, and speaking on revolutionary ideas and the horrific truths of American society. Imagine dealing with severe depression and already wanting life to end, just to receive an anonymous, threatening letter from the FBI that tells you to kill yourself or be exposed as “an evil, abnormal beast”. Imagine having to remain passive in the face of White Aggression and fighting a seemingly never-ending war, not just with the world around you, but within yourself. Think about the two quotes above. “The darkness” that Dr. King spoke of… was it just from our oppressors or was it him being introspective and killing two birds (passively striking back at our oppressors and winning the war within himself) with one stone? As for the quote about “doing for others”- was that his way of subtly crying for help, or is that a reach? After learning about his history with depression and being able to relate to him on that level, I am beginning to wonder many questions; What would you do if you were in Dr. MLK Jr’s. shoes during the 50s and 60s? A time when mental health wasn’t prioritized and being Black meant you had less access to any of the medical help that existed.




These two quotes are popular for good reason, but it seems that we robotically repeat these quotes without thinking about what MLK Jr. may have been dealing with from an introspective point of view. Without thinking about EXACTLY what MLK Jr. was dealing with mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically, we are not viewing the human in him. When we sit back and realize that MLK Jr. was human, just like the rest of us, we will start to realize that his mental health was drastically neglected.


Dr. King attempted suicide twice before the age of 13 and fought several bouts of severe depression as an adult. Now, just imagine-being one of the symbolic faces of the U.S Civil Rights Movement, organizing key events and protests, surviving from constant threats and surveillance, and speaking on revolutionary ideas and the horrific truths of American society. Imagine dealing with severe depression and already wanting life to end, just to receive an anonymous, threatening letter from the FBI that tells you to kill yourself or be exposed as “an evil, abnormal beast”. Imagine having to remain passive in the face of White Aggression and fighting a seemingly never-ending war, not just with the world around you, but within yourself. Think about the two quotes above. “The darkness” that Dr. King spoke of… was it just from our oppressors or was it him being introspective and killing two birds (passively striking back at our oppressors and winning the war within himself) with one stone? As for the quote about “doing for others”- was that his way of subtly crying for help, or is that a reach? After learning about his history with depression and being able to relate to him on that level, I am beginning to wonder many questions; What would you do if you were in Dr. MLK Jr’s. shoes during the 50s and 60s? A time when mental health wasn’t prioritized and being Black meant you had less access to any of the medical help that existed.


On this MLK Weekend I challenge you to read about Dr. MLK Jr.’s life and answer the question: What would you do if you were in Dr. MLK, Jr.'s shoes?

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