Martyred Prophets of Nonviolence: Martin Luther King Jr. and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas
Two important anniversaries are taking place this week: Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 21 and the 6 month anniversary of the deaths of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero on July 22, 2012. However Martin and Oswaldo share a lot more in common than the proximity of dates on a calendar. Both Martin Luther King Jr. and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas were Christians whose nonviolent defense of human rights was informed by their faith. Both of their movements emerged out of their respective local Churches. Martin Luther King Jr. was a reverend at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas a Catholic layman at the Savior of the World Parrish in El Cerro in Havana.
Oswalo Payá Sardiñas was awarded the European Union’s Sakharov Prize forFreedom of Thought in 2002 (English translation of speech available here) and was nominated by Vaclav Havel for the Nobel Peace Prize. Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.On January 18, 2012 Santiago A. Cárdenas presented his book Payá: The Goat, The Man, The Prophet about the early years of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and the founding of the Christian Liberation Movement at a forum organized by the Institute of Historic Memory. It was this book presentation that generated this reflection on the parallels between Martin Luther King Jr. and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas.
Both men founded a movement based in nonviolence and inspired by historic figures. In the case of Martin Luther King Jr., he was greatly influenced by Mohandas Gandhi and Oswaldo Payá was greatly influenced by Lech Walesa.
Continue reading HERE.