January 15 is the 90th birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. He became the most famous leader of what became known as the Civil Rights Movement that started in the late 1950’s. Yet the struggle against racism did not begin with Dr. King. This week in the news there was a graphic example from the 1940’s of the pervasive system of legalized racism known as Jim Crow and the struggle for justice and equality that predated the modern civil rights movement. In Florida the Groveland Four received posthumous pardons after being wrongly accused of raping a white woman nearly 70 years ago in 1949. At that time one of the four young men was lynched by a mob before their trial. Two others were later shot by a local sheriff who falsely claimed that they were trying to escape, and one of them died. The remaining two endured two trials and were falsely convicted twice despite the best efforts of their attorney Thurgood Marshall who would go on to become the first African American Supreme Court justice. The video posted below is a brief report about the posthumous pardon of the Groveland Four. It is a story of racism, unjust suffering, and a seven decade struggle for justice. As we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and give thanks for the civil rights movement, it is important to remember that the struggle against racism goes back to the very foundation of our country and continues today. The story of the Groveland Four is an example of why we needed the civil rights movement. Their posthumous pardon is a witness to the persistence of those who fought for justice against overwhelming odds and a call for us to resist unjust actions and systems regardless of how popular they may be. Organizations such as the Equal Justice Initiative and the Poor People’s Campaign are contemporary examples of the ongoing need to continue the movement for racial justice 90 years after the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. and 70 years after the Groveland Four.