Born: January, 15, 1929, Atlanta, Georgia | Successful For: Activist | Zodiac Sign: Capricorn
3 Lessons To Learn From Martin Luther King Jr.'s Story:
Martin Luther King Jr. Was A Visionary Who Was Passionate About Public Speaking And Standing Tall For What He Believed In:
Martin Luther King Jr. strongly believed and followed his own ideology “Whatever your life's work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.” He did not randomly become an activist and a leader; it was instilled in his heart.
As a child, he enjoyed singing and his mother, who was an organist and choir leader herself, would take him to churches to sing. He received praises for singing "I Want to Be More and More Like Jesus", and would become a member of the junior choir. He went on to work as an assistant manager for a newspaper called Atlanta Journal at age 13. His family was very religious in the Christian faith and they instilled some very core values and a good foundation for young Martin. However, he challenged his father’s choice to enter the ministry and was constantly examining the religion until he took a Bible class in his junior years. Martin would make a pivotal switch as many of his questions were answered and he restored his faith, even visioning to become a preacher.
In school he was a fairly popular student, especially among his female classmates, due to his high degree of emotional intelligence. In his junior years, he won first place in an oratorical contest out in Atlanta. On a bus his teacher and him were ordered by the driver to stand so the white passengers could sit. Martin Luther King Jr. initially refused until his teacher forced him to sit and told him he would be breaking the law. This was his first confrontation with segregation and he later claimed it to be the "angriest he had ever been."
At 18, Martin chose to enter the ministry because he felt that it was the best way for him to compel his "inner urge to serve humanity". He strongly believed in becoming a “rational and liberal” minister who could instil a more “respectful force for ideas, even social protest."
Martin would excel in his classes and he was elected the valedictorian. Although he was thriving in his studies and becoming heavily involved with the debate team, he was also very rebellious towards his father’s more conservative ways, drinking beer and playing pool during college. Martin also became increasingly in love with a white German woman while dealing with a ton of intense opposition because of the very unstable racial clashes.
Martin would finish his B.A degree in Sociology and was becoming a recognized public speaker. At Crozer Theological Seminary he became the student body president. Martin was relishing as a leader and took responsibility instilling the black students with strong values. In fact, he once called out a student for keeping beer in his room and explained to him the importance of carrying "the burdens of the Negro race."
Through Adversity And Strong Role Models Like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. Was Driven By A Deeper Purpose Outside Of Himself:
As a 6 year old, Martin was forced to befriend his neighbour who was a white boy because the child's father no longer wanted them to play together. This was the beginning of the segregated world Martin would discover. Martin was whipped by his father often and moulded to obey. He would also learn how to be bold from his father as he witnessed him being an unafraid individual who protested against segregation. His father once refused to obey a traffic policeman after being referred to as “boy" and he once stormed out of a store when told by a shoe clerk that they had to move to the back to be served.
Martin began to resent whites because of the humiliation his family and neighbours alike endured in the South. At age 12, his grandmother died and the traumatic event caused Martin to jump out of his window attempting suicide because he felt guilty for attending a parade, when his parents told him not to. Throughout his life, Martin Luther King Jr. suffered from depression, but found hope in doing something outside of himself. “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
Prior to learning about non-violence, Martin Luther King Jr. would actually practice self-defence and even had guns in his home to protect against attackers. As Martin grew wiser, he began to learn from major influences. He gained knowledge from activist Bayard Rustin and was advised by white Christian activists such as Harris Wofford and Glenn Smiley who were advocates of Gandhi. Martin Luther King Jr. would be heavily inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and took a trip to India to learn from his family and friends.
From the powerful experience, he concluded "Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of non-violent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity". After the infamous Montgomery boycott, Martin wrote a book and explained how important it is to win an enemy through friendship as opposed to humiliation or defeat. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”
Martin Luther King Jr. studied many different people through history, but he was impacted most by Gandhi, Leo “The Kingdom Of God Is Within You”, Henry David Thoreau’s “On Civil Disobedience” and "Sermon on the Mount" by Jesus. Martin Luther King Jr.
With Faith, Perseverance And A Strong Moral Compass, Martin Luther King Jr. Was Able To Climb The Whole Staircase:
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King Jr. was raised by 2 extremely important role models, his parents, who gave him 2 very essential qualities. His father was confident in his ways when facing discrimination and believed that segregation and superiority was against God’s will. His mother was the one who gave him the softer side and taught him about ‘love’ as opposed to ‘fear’ and ingrained in him that in a system that labelled him as less than to other beings, he was just as important and special as anyone else. Born into a good family environment with a loving foundation was the stepping stone in the big picture and both his parents left strong impressions on him. However, it was the gruesome times he and other blacks faced that truly propelled him to become a pastor, and eventually an activist leader.
While preaching, Martin Luther King Jr. was always indulged in civil rights and he was a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus and a 385 day boycott began, the King household was bombed. A group of activists came together and chose Martin Luther King Jr. as the protest’s leader and spokesperson. In his first speech, he powerfully demanded "We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice."
Martin Luther Jr. would become the forefront leader in charge of many campaigns, protests, marches and movements alongside his wife Coretta and several other leaders in the African American Civil Rights community. They would stand strong in their faith and endure through so much violence and hardships. Martin would be sent to jail over 29 times. Martin would cleverly use massive crowds and showcase public scrutiny to attract press so that people could witness what was going on. He was always pro peace and showed love and forgiveness for the enemy. With time and patience he had major influence on the leaders of the oppositions and signed major agreements. From the major campaigns and movements Martin Luther King Jr. would use hope, love and his powerful voice to subside the segregation and racism right up until his assassination. His philosophy throughout was that “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” His legacy and powerful message would leave a big mark on the planet as big transformations took place during his life and changes continued to occur many, many years after. “We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
- Quote by Martin Luther King Jr.
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