Martin Luther held a prominent role in my confirmation classes in the Episcopal Church. It was a year of Saturdays learning the history of the Protestant church. Martin Luther was ordained into the priesthood in 1507, he rejected several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, sparking Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther believed that the Holy Bible is the central source of religious authority and should be made accessible to everyone.
A mere monk, Martin Luther took a stand against the Emperor Charles V, making it clear that he feared God’s judgment more than the powerful leaders of that time. It was Rome’s inflexibility that drove Luther to bolder and bolder public positions, eventually putting him beyond rapprochement and setting him on a path that will forever be debated as heretical or as glorious. Luther was the harbinger of a new world in which any ordinary individual had the freedom of thinking for himself.
After a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1934, Martin Luther King Jr.’s father attended an international conference of Baptist pastors. While in Germany, this pastor from Georgia whose name was Michael King, became so impressed with what he learned about the reformer, Martin Luther, he decided to change his name. He changed his five year old son’s name as well.
Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek came to speak at my college when I was a freshman. He showed some of the special effects such as the two men pulling the doors open whenever anyone entered “the bridge.” Shots of the USS Enterprise were of tiny models hung with fish line. The transporter in which crew members were “beamed up” from ship to planet was a three fold process. First the person or persons were filmed standing in position. Then they stepped out of the frame while the camera caught an empty set . A glittering “beam’ effect (aluminum powder) was shot separately, dropping the powder from above with an intensive light in the background. The original film of the crew members was then combined with the shot of the glittering powder, and the effect was achieved with optical printing and film cameras.
Star Trek was created in the 1960s, becoming iconic in the mid 1970’s in re-runs. Groups would converge on the University of Wyoming Student Union television at 4:00 every weekday afternoon to watch another installment of the show. I was part of the group of Star Trek’s cult followers, called “Trekkies”. We knew every episode by heart, most of the dialogue, too.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a huge Star Trek fan, particularly of Nichelle Nichols, better know as Lt. Nyota Uhura. While meeting at an NAACP awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Dr. King told Ms. Nichols, “You don’t have a black role. You have an equal role and for the first time on television we will be seen every day, as intelligent, quality, beautiful people … who can go into space.”Star Trek was one of the only shows that Dr. King would allow his children to watch.
Star Trek is noted for its cultural influence beyond works of science fiction. The franchise is also notable for its progressive civil rights stances. The original series included one of the first multiracial casts in U.S. television. Lt. Uhura, which comes from the Swahili word, “uhuru’ meaning freedom is depicted as a capable bridge officer. Uhura was one of the first black characters to be portrayed in a non-menial role on an American television series.
Dr. King fought against injustice, promoted peace, and non-violence, and stood up for the things he believed in. Through it all, more than fifty years after his death, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. continues to make an impact on people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. He showed the people of America that we can fight battles without violence, but instead with compassion, love, and kindness.
Kate Emery General is a retired chef/restaurant owner that was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming. Kate loves her grandchildren, knitting and watercolor painting. Kate and her husband , Matt are longtime residents of Cambridge’s West End where they enjoy swimming and bicycling.