Martin Luther King Jr. and Joachim Prinz were born in different countries, almost thirty years apart. They grew up speaking different languages, belonged to different religions and had different skin colors. But these differences hardly mattered. What they had in common was much more important.
Both Martin and Joachim had parents who supported their education and the careers they chose. Martin became a preacher just like his dad. Joachim’s family was not very religious, but they taught their son to care about the rights of others.
Both men began their careers at a young age. Joachim was 24 when he became a rabbi, and Martin was 19 when he became a minister. Both men felt the power of God was with them.
Martin and Joachim both experienced injustice firsthand and developed “spiritual resistance.” As a young boy, Martin was hurt when he lost his best friend just because whites and blacks could not attend the same school. Joachim felt terrible when his German friends ignored him after Adolf Hitler came to power.
Both men were great speakers. They had the gift to capture the attention of a crowd and influence others with their words.
When they saw the chance to take leadership roles in their communities, both the rabbi and the reverend accepted these opportunities.
Both believed that justice must be won peacefully. Their approach was non-violent but persistent and unwavering.
Martin and Joachim didn’t just preach in their church or synagogue, they brought their messages of fairness and equality to people through their everyday actions.
Both men knew their people must fight against negative stereotypes and keep their dignity and self-confidence.
Most importantly: Rabbi Prinz and Reverend King knew that when good people remained silent and did nothing when their neighbors faced injustice, that was the worst crime of all.
Both men got in trouble with the law for their fight against injustice. The late US Congressman John Lewis called their protests, “good, necessary trouble.”
Their friendship came from a common struggle. Black churches and synagogues across the country were the targets of bombings and violence. Jews and blacks were denied certain basic rights and a sense of safety in their own country.
Martin and Joachim were patient men. They knew that change would not happen quickly or easily.
But they were also impatient. They had waited too long for justice. In 1958, Martin said, “This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
Martin and Joachim each wrote many books and gave hundreds of speeches that touched the lives of thousands of people.
Both men believed that a real “hero” shows up and speaks out against injustice.