A message of Peace

By on January 30, 2003

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a powerful man, a gifted speaker, a gentle soul, and a revolutionist to the Civil Rights Movement.

His words were so enlightening, that millions of people listened to him and followed his message of non-violence to pursue a given cause.

During his lifetime, King saw the Jim Crow Laws slowly deteriorate before his eyes. But, he died before all his words were spoken.

People all over the world were amazed by the words and life of King, but one man was truly touched.

Jim Lucas, 59, took it upon himself to spread the word of King.

Lucas has three loves in his life. The first is his wife and two sons, the second his work with the department of Agriculture for the United States government, and the last: his love for public speaking and theater arts.

Even though Lucas currently resides in Maryland, he grew up down south in Lake Providence, La.

His section of the town was called the “Delta” and was mostly made up of farmers and merchants. His father was the only black merchant in town.

During the highpoint of King’s speeches, Lucas was in grammar and high school. Lucas attended the segregated schools and saw the difference between the two educational systems.

“Doctor King was my hero. He was fighting against injustice in a time where that is the only thing that we felt,” said Lucas. “I saw it in the schools. They were separate but far from equal.”

Lucas saw King fighting for better books, more supplies, a better education for African Americans and more jobs.

He saw King being arrested and heard about his speeches and non-violent protesting.

Lucas even took part in demonstrations throughout Lake Providence.

“It took a lot of courage for him to do what he did,” said Lucas. “I admired him for his work and his courage. I wanted to emulate him.”

It was not until 1983 that Lucas decided to spread the works of King.

Lucas was at a reenactment of the March 10 Washington Monument demonstrations, when he heard a tape recording of King’s “I have a dream” speech.

“I thought to myself that they should have had a person come in to read his speech and not just have his voice on tape,” said Lucas. “I never wanted that to happen again. That night I went home and stated to learn that speech.”

It was also at this point Lucas and a few other people were trying to get King’s birthday recognized as a national holiday. In 1986, this became a reality.

In order for Lucas to further spread King’s words, he took it upon himself to get into King’s head.

“I did research, I read and re-read his speeches, I memorized them and I talked to people who knew King,” said Lucas.

In doing this, Lucas feels he can walk his audience through King’s life, giving them a background of what went on behind the scenes of King’s speeches.

He can also challenge his audiences and himself as King once did.

“My challenge is to live my life so that I can help someone as I go on,” said Lucas. “I work not to be a selfish person. Not to take and take, but to give and then help someone else.”

Lucas said he gets e-mails from people all over the county asking him to speak at conferences. These people also ask him about King and his work.

Some letters thank him for giving them the courage to live and fight for what they believe in.

“People learn not to sit back and live in the comfort zone,” said Lucas. “They learn to stay in the fight.”

One of Lucas’s best memories were the changes seen when King was working on his demonstrations.

Lucas said he remembers when blacks were first allowed to walk on sidewalks. He also remembers when blacks were first allowed to try on shoes and work with white people.

A bad memory for Lucas was the day King died.

“You could have ripped my heart out,” said Lucas. “A man of peace and good will taken away from you. It was devastating.”

Now Lucas is carrying Kings words to future generations, so they to can realize how devoted and true King was to his cause.


About Kellie Gleeson