Martin Luther King Jr.

A Christian African American, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on the 15th of January 1929. Before his assassination in April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an eminent activist and humanitarian, once leading the African-American Civil Rights Movement. His life could almost be described as a constant war, having held many protests. Some of them failed, whereas other successful marches achieved their goals. The heavy Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 lasted for 385 days and even caused King, who led this rally, to have his house bombed. His role in this situation made him renowned as a national figure before earning the title of being the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement. 

Growing up, King’s life was heavily influenced by racism. His past was no ordinary one, being regularly whipped by his own father up to the age of 15, until even humiliatingly heard by neighbours. When he was a child, King befriended a white boy whose father owned a business near his neighbourhood. They were separated at the age of 6 when the father found out, regarding the blacks as no more than inferior. Moreover, Martin Luther King Jr. had also suffered from depression and was suicidal. He blamed himself and attempted suicide when his grandmother passed away. Fortunately, he survived. The racial humiliation that he and his loved ones had endured sparked a resentful feeling within him. This bitterness was felt towards the whites. 

Later on in his life, he was recognised for his remarkable public speakings when he attended Booker T. Washington High School. He was also a member of the school’s debate team. One day, King and his teacher were ordered to stand inside a bus returning from Georgia, with the reason of prioritising the whites' comfort before the blacks. Initially, King had refused to listen. However, he complied after his teacher had warned that it was against the law to fight orders. The incident was described as "the angriest I have ever been in my life” by King himself. With white citizens still superior, his college years also held a dark side to it.

Mahatma Gandhi, who was introduced to King through Bayard Rustin, had made a lasting and great impact in King’s life. Nonviolence was not a term he was familiar with before. In fact, King would practise self defence to the extent of owning guns. That all changed when he got to know Gandhi and his beliefs. King even made the effort to go to India on April 1959. This trip deeply affected King and deepened his understanding of the nonviolent way of fighting for rights. Thus, his commitment to tackle America's struggle for civil rights turned more intense. He soon believed that nonviolent resistance was stronger than any other machine weapons, as part of a summary of his thoughts on the trip to India. He even praised the Indian leader for his peaceful courage.

Another huge success King had led was the notable ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’. The march was a booming one with a few strong demands, including an end to racial segregation in public schools, meaningful civil rights legislation, - especially effective ones to employers -protection of civil rights workers from police brutality, a $2 minimum wage for all workers, and self-government for Washington, D.C. 

Then came the iconic speech. 

Martin Luther King’s words were prompted by Mahalia Jackson, who shouted, “Tell them about your dream!” in which he said, 

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. 

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.”

Martin Luther King was a wonderful leader, activist and a fighter. He fought for equality, yes. But one thing which was more distinctive than that, was freedom. Not only did he fight to gain freedom for himself, but the privilege was also granted to the entire race.


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