Honoring the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Published on January 01, 2024

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr waves at crowd in Washington DC

The City of Lakewood is proud to annual remember and honor the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the national commemoration of his birthday.

The City of Lakewood encourages residents to review and learn from Dr. King's philosophy of non-violent political action and communication (which is summarized below). This philosophy was a major force in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s and remains an inspiration today. 

You can read Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, his "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and his 1960 speech at Spelman College linked at the top right.

Dr. King’s Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change

The following is excerpted from the website of The King Center, founded by Mrs. Coretta Scott King to preserve and promote the legacy of her husband, Dr. King.

1. Information Gathering
To understand and articulate an issue, problem or injustice facing a person, community, or institution you must do research. You must investigate and gather all vital information from all sides of the argument or issue so as to increase your understanding of the problem. You must become an expert on your opponent’s position.

2. Education
It is essential to inform others, including your opposition, about your issue. This minimizes misunderstandings and gains you support and sympathy.

3. Personal Commitment
Daily check and affirm your faith in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. Eliminate hidden motives and prepare yourself to accept suffering, if necessary, in your work for justice.

4. Negotiation
Using grace, humor and intelligence, confront the other party with a list of injustices and a plan for addressing and resolving these injustices. Look for what is positive in every action and statement the opposition makes. Do not seek to humiliate the opponent but to call forth the good in the opponent.

5. Direct Action
These are actions taken when the opponent is unwilling to enter into, or remain in, discussion/negotiation. These actions impose a “creative tension” into the conflict, supplying moral pressure on your opponent to work with you in resolving the injustice.

6. Reconciliation
Nonviolence seeks friendship and understanding with the opponent. Nonviolence does not seek to defeat the opponent. Nonviolence is directed against evil systems, forces, oppressive policies, unjust acts, but not against persons. Through reasoned compromise, both sides resolve the injustice with a plan of action. Each act of reconciliation is one step close to the ‘Beloved Community.’

Dr. King’s Philosophy of Nonviolence

PRINCIPLE ONE: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.

  • It is active nonviolent resistance to evil.
  • It is aggressive spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

PRINCIPLE TWO: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.

  • The end result of nonviolence is redemption and reconciliation.
  • The purpose of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community.

PRINCIPLE THREE: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people.

  • Nonviolence recognizes that evildoers are also victims and are not evil people.
  • The nonviolent resister seeks to defeat evil not people.

PRINCIPLE FOUR: Nonviolence holds that suffering for a cause can educate and transform people and societies.

  • Nonviolence accepts suffering without retaliation.
  • Unearned suffering for a cause is redemptive and has tremendous educational and transforming possibilities.

PRINCIPLE FIVE: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.

  • Nonviolence resists violence of the spirit as well as the body.
  • Nonviolent love is spontaneous, unmotivated, unselfish and creative.

PRINCIPLE SIX: Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.

  • The nonviolent resister has deep faith that justice will eventually win.
  • Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice.


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