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Martin Luther King Essay, Research Paper

A man once had a dream; a dream that all people could exist together in peace and harmony. This man was Martin Luther King Jr. King was a dedicated civil rights leader of the 1950 s and 60 s. He had many great achievements in his lifetime that influenced the lives of so many people. His dream still lives on today. This biography will examine King s life, his ideas, and his role in history as both a philosopher and a civil rights leader.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929, and so began his legacy. He was an educated man, with a doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University. As King was working on his PhD he was given the pastorate of Dexter Avenue Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Perhaps the event that sparked King s rise to fame and leadership is the Montgomery bus boycott. In 1955 a woman by the name of Rosa Parks brought on the boycott, by one day refusing to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. Led by her influence, many black residents formed the Montgomery Improvement association. This newly formed association elected King as their leader. Despite their good intentions, many of the members as well as King were convicted. The charges affirmed that they were conspiring to conflict with the Bus Company s procedure. However, King and his organisation succeeded in the end. Buses were officially desegregated in December of 1956.

Many other of King s feats were widely recognised. Some of these included heading the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, initiating the Poor People s campaign which dealt with some economic problems that weren t previously addressed by civil rights, desegregating many other public places such as lunch counters, becoming Time Magazine s Man of the Year, and receiving the Nobel peace Prize in 1964.

As well as directly helping the people, King motivated them. He delivered

several famous speeches, for instance I Have A Dream which he addressed to a mass of protestors on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Among the other well-known speeches are I See the Promised Land , Loving Your Enemies , and The Birth of a New Nation .

Martin Luther King roused a lot of anger from white supremacists and basically the general public because of his ambition and persistence. On April 4, 1968 while assisting a Garbage workers strike, he was assassinated. The alleged assassin was James Earl Ray, but to this day the controversy remains. It is apparent that nobody really looked into his death as much as they should have. The evidence was questionable and the investigations were not thorough. It is kind of ironic to name a holiday after such a great man, when nobody bothered to look into his murder.

Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. This quote was taken from the renowned speech I Have a Dream . It illustrates some of King s basic philosophies of non-violence, and love for the enemy. King believed in the method of non-violent resistance. King denied accusations that non-violence was a cowardly approach, but rather it was a passionate and effective one. For instance, instead of lashing out, it was more important to gain the understanding and friendship of your opponent and therefore gaining his respect for your opinion. For King, violence resulted in chaos, and nothing could be accomplished amidst chaos.

Another point that King stressed was that the battle being fought is the battle between good and evil, not a battle between individuals. Tension should not be felt between the people. If a victory were reached then it would be for the forces of good and light, not just for the Negroes.

In order to be an effective non-violent protestor, according to Dr. King, one must be willing to suffer. If they are passionate about their cause they will accept imprisonment or violence against them. Retaliation was not acceptable. In fact, retaliation would show mental weakness and defeat the purpose of changing the opponent s opinions. Faith in justice would prevail.

Lastly, a further of King s philosophies was the belief in Agape love. Agape is a Greek word for one of the types of love. It is the love of God in our hearts, which is spontaneous, creative, groundless and unmotivated. It can t differentiate between worthy or unworthy people. This love is one that seeks to please another, and not yourself.

All of Martin Luther King s ideas were extremely important to the civil rights movement, and his dream still lives on today. He gave Negroes many rights that they never had, as well as causing them to realize their terrible situation. King was a respectable example for them to follow in their search for freedom and basic human rights.

The injustice that King witnessed in his day was what mainly inspired him to lead and motivate his people. The conditions in America weren t very favourable for black people. Returning from WWII, black Americans expected to find a land of equality and specifically a land with increased black civil rights. In 1950, the U.S. counted 15 million black citizens; two thirds of them still lived in the infamous south. The south was ridden with social injustice, as well as a disadvantage in obtaining any type of financial freedom. The area was firmly dedicated to preserving the white status quo .

Some other major inspirations of Martin Luther King s included Henry David Thoreau, Jesus, and Gandhi. Prior to reading the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, King had concluded that turning the other cheek was only applied to situations between individuals; therefore it was useless for large social problems. He later learned differently. Gandhi led a revolution thru passive resistance. He taught the concept of satyagraha which means truth force, or love force. It is nearly impossible to name the multitude of lives that King impacted. It is evident that anyone living in his time would have been affected by his famous teachings. He gained the support of many white citizens, including rabbis, priests, ministers, nuns, lawyers, writers, students, and even national leaders. In aid of King was also the media, who broadcasted his escapades, causing a stir the hearts of Americans.

As a final point, Martin Luther King was an incredible human being. His life was full of achievements. King was a respected leader, who gained the support and assistance of countless individuals. He too was motivated by some very eminent people, like Gandhi and HD Thoreau. As well as being a prominent figure in the history of civil rights, King was recognized as a philosopher. He upheld the belief that non-violence was the answer, and he wanted the world to be a place where all people of any race or religion to exist together in peace. Martin Luther King had a dream. We are responsible for keeping his dream alive.


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