Dr. King’s message even inspired many of the East German protestors who brought down the Berlin Wall, Ambassador Scharioth said. (© Germany.info)
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s timeless message of courage, hope and nonviolence resonated throughout the United States but also throughout Germany, where he visited in 1964, German Ambassador Klaus Scharioth said this weekend as he was honored as a recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award for International Service.
“Dr. King’s life and work became known and admired by Germans in both East and West, when he visited West and East Berlin in 1964,” Ambassador Scharioth said.
“Through his charismatic personality and belief in the power of nonviolence, Dr. King touched the hearts and minds of people on both sides of the Atlantic—and on both sides of the Berlin Wall.”, so Ambassador Scharioth.
The award was presented to Ambassador Scharioth on Sunday, January 16, at the International Salute to the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, an annual celebration in Washington, DC, honoring international and national figures who embody the legacy and ideals of the civil rights leader.
Enlarge image Ambassador Scharioth hosted a dinner for his fellow honorees and for the International Salute Committee on the evening before the award ceremony. Second from left, Dr. Koh, Ambassador Scharioth, Representative Watson, Founding Chairman Brown, Chairwoman Lawson, Secretary General Insulza. (© Germany.info)
As honorary chair of this year’s salute, Ambassador Scharioth hosted a dinner at his residence for his fellow honorees and for the International Salute Committee on Saturday, January 15, which would have been Dr. King’s 82nd birthday.
Guests included fellow honorees former US Representative Diane Watson (D-CA); José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States; and Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Madeline Y. Lawson, Chairwoman of the International Salute Committee and President and CEO of the Institute for the Advancement of Multicultural & Minority Medicine, and Henry H. Brown, Founding Chairman of the International Salute Committee, were also among the honored guests.
In his remarks, Ambassador Scharioth said that Dr. King’s example, especially his philosophy of nonviolent resistance, had a profound effect on the civil rights movements in the East and West, even inspiring many of the East German protestors who brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989.
“It was hope – the unrelenting hope of many East Germans and Eastern Europeans that they might one day be free – and courage – including the enormous courage to peacefully resist violence – it was this hope and courage that tore down walls and fences and brought people together from the East and West,” Ambassador Scharioth said. “It was not tanks.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist pastor who became the leader of the civil rights movement in the United States, promoting nonviolent protests as a means to civil rights reforms. He was named Michael Luther at birth, but his father changed his own name and his son’s name to Martin in recognition of the German Protestant reformer. King came to national prominence by leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-56, and from then, with fellow activists and leaders, worked to advance the causes of voting rights, desegregation, labor rights and other rights for blacks. In 1964, a year after he spearheaded the March on Washington and in the same year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming at age 35 the youngest recipient of the prize. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis. The first national holiday in the United States celebrating the life of the civil rights leader was observed twenty-five years ago.