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“The Civil Rights Movement and Contemporary Society” by Professor Brenda E. Stevenson

The most recent in Pacifica’s educational and enlightening lecture series was one in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. On Tuesday night, January 22, 2013, Brenda Stevenson, Ph.D., Professor of History at UCLA, spoke about “the Civil Rights Movement and Contemporary Society” for an audience of distinguished guests who were equally sympathetic to the subject.

Professor Stevenson is a respected scholar of history, with a special focus on African American Studies and slave women and family. Her expertise and interest on the night’s topic resulted in a beautiful, very informative and delightful lecture that also lit the way for a struggle into a better future.

Prof. Stevenson herself was raised in the segregated South. Relating from personal experience, she expressed that she greatly admired the work Martin Luther King Jr. did. She appreciated the fact that Dr. King himself “did not go to integrated school until high school” and grew up amidst this phenomenon. After pursuing an education and developing a career, the fact that Dr. King returned to the South to give a fight for his people’s cause was truly noteworthy, she added.

Professor Stevenson introduced once more the many aspects of this extraordinary man. “I want to speak of him as an activist, as a pacifist, as a man of God, as a scholar, as a father and as a husband,” she said.

Guiding the listeners through a journey of his life and endeavors, the many obstacles he and his friends endured, the many challenges they faced, and the determination they upheld to stand up for their cause, she ended with his legacy that extends onto this very day.

“What had started out as a civil rights movement had continued on to become a human rights movement,” she explained as she elaborated on the fact that having achieved their goal of equality through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Act of 1965 had not stopped Martin Luther King Jr.

He did not settle for the local issues of a certain people, but took a step further for the national fight against poverty, a fight that encompassed many peoples throughout the whole country.

“He was not afraid to embrace change and allow his ideas to evolve,” she explained.

These very notions should serve as a key point to all of us living in this world today. Embracing change and allowing ideas to evolve, not settling for merely local issues but reaching out to the world and humanity at large are stepping stones to constantly strive for a deeper meaning of life and a devotion to serve the world.

Finishing off her speech, she left the guests pondering over the fact that the fight Martin Luther King Jr. devoted the later half his life to is an issue that persists even today. As heirs to his legacy, living in this world that we live in, if we want to live a life as admirable and memorable as he has, we have to, in our own small circles, do whatever is in our power to affect change.

Copyright by Pacifica Institute 2011. All rights reserved.