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Leon Bibb: How Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s words from the 1960s still ring with relevance in 2021

Leon Bibb recalls a college internship assignment to cover Dr. King.

CLEVELAND — It was Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s that pushed the conscience of this nation. 

Had he lived; MLK Jr. would be 92, today. But the Civil Rights leader was assassinated at age 39 in 1968.   

The federal holiday honoring Dr. King’s memory was signed into law in 1983 and first observed three years later.

With so many of the horrible things in the news today, one wonders what Dr. King would say if he was still with us. Despite that thought, many believe that the words he said then are still relevant now.

7. Martin Luther King Jr. Monument , Washington, DC (Photo: Getty Images)

“The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win it and their participants know it.  Hence, rioting is not revolutionary, but reactionary, because it involves defeat.”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Just a few quotes that define the legacy of MLK Jr.

Credit: Call & Post
Photo of a 19 year old Leon Bibb, who interned for The Call & Post. A journalism major at Bowling Green University, Leon was assigned to cover a Cleveland appearance by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It was just once I saw Martin Luther King face-to-face. I was a college student reporter-intern for the Cleveland Call and Post newspaper. I covered one of Dr. King’s Cleveland appearances.    

At a Cleveland east side shopping area, a crowd gathered to hear Dr. King and just as he approached the microphone, he and I looked at each other briefly. We both smiled. 

For the Cleveland Call and Post newspaper, I clicked my camera and captured his image. My photograph made the front page of the newspaper. 

Credit: Call & Post
Leon was assigned to shoot a photo of Dr. King's rally in Cleveland. He recalls the moment that he snapped the shot vividly. To this day he is fiercely proud of the photo credit he received.

I remember the day well, not just because of the photograph, but also because of the inspiration I received from Martin Luther King Jr., himself. Throughout all of his time working for justice and fairness, all of his words still resonate with me.

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