Martin Luther King Jr.

By Eli Dukes


Born Michael Luther King on January 15, 1929, King Jr, grew up in Atlanta, GA and was exposed to Jim Crow and police brutality. He grew up in a loving family in a community where everyone made an average income and the crime rate was low. His father and grandfather both served as pastors of Ebenezer Baptist Church and after his graduation from high school, King moved North to Pennsylvania to study in seminary. In the North, he savored the freedom and tolerance he found. While in the North, he grew disgusted with the South and began to read Ghandi's theory of non-violent resistance. He found this aligned with his own Christian values and wanted above all to let love reign supreme. After seminary, he moved to Boston where he fell in love with Coretta Scott. She had grown up in the South as well, and now they both felt a pull to return to the land of their persecution.Deeply motivated by his Christian beliefs, King categorically denied Jim Crow in all aspects of civil life and sought to end it. In 1954, King took the pulpit of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL and immediately became enmeshed in civil rights battles. He was an executive member of the NAACP and was called upon to help initiate a bus boycott after Rosa Parks ignited debates over "colored people's" right to be able to sit where they chose. After a year of the boycott, wherein King's house was bombed twice, the Supreme Court ruled in 1956 that every law declaring segregation on buses was unconstitutional. After this success. the beast of Jim Crow began to be dismantled by King and his followers. He led mass protests in Birmingham, AL and was jailed. He marched on Washington in 1963 and delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. After receiving the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35, he donated all his money to furthering civil rights. As he fought, the movement was taken up by the white clergy as an issue of the Christian conscience. His march from Selma to Birmingham in 1965 was nationally televised. Audiences everywhere saw the events of Bloody Sunday and the police brutality. This event sparked more civil rights legislation. Tragically, on April 4, 1968 MLK was assassinated.
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MLK's cause was to guarantee that African-Americans were seen in the eyes of Amercians the way they were in the eyes of God- equal

He was motivated by his deep Christian faith and was thrust into the spotlight by the NAACP and the bus boycott. He never craved the attention only the results.

MLK was a spectacular speaker. He used sermons to motivate both white and black alike and speeches to demand political change. He was a master of rhetorical strategies. He also suffered with the protesters and spent countless nights in jail. He considered some laws just and others unjust and would stop at nothing to peacefully disobey unjust laws.

He suffered bombings, threats on his family, and eventually he brought about by his persistence, his assassination.

MLK would have been against mass incarceration disproportionate to demographics that plagues the United States today. He would have fought against police brutality and considered the countless black lives lost a tragedy.

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Time Period's Influence on MLK

Growing up in the Great Depression, MLK saw hundreds in breadlines, he admits that this led to his anticapitalistic sentiments.

He had a loving family and a deeply religious community which he points to the reason for his early acceptance of the love of God.

Growing up under Jim Crow, his mother made it clear that he was "to never feel inferior" (King 4). He had a deep resentment to systemic injustice. Once in a shoe store, he and his father were told to wait in the back. His father marched him out and King Jr. learned to resist injustice. King saw police brutality , the KKK, and economic injustice.

One summer in Connecticut, King saw the opportunities available in the North and could not understand why it was so much different in the South.

In college, King read Henry David Thoreau's essay "On Civil Disobedience" and became convinced that "noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good" (King 14).

At Crozer Seminary in Chester, PA, King analyzed The Communist Manifesto and rejected Communism based on its secularistic history, political dictatorships, and relativistic truth but saw benefits such as helping the poor and disapproval for profit at the expense of lives that capitalism did not offer.

King studied Gandhi and loved his theory on non-violent resistance.

Martin Luther King "Street Sweeper" Speech
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MLK in the New Millenium

MLK would be perceived as a voice for the voiceless. He would be quickly employed by the NAACP as an advocate and orator. He would function somewhat as a political lobbyist but his main task would be to activate the American conscience for the continuation of civil rights. MLK's voice would be appreciated amongst the civil rights issues of our day.

If I had MLK's talents, I would dedicate myself to fighting police brutality and mass incarceration disproportionate to demographics. I'd fight for inner city education and unemployment to drop. I'd spend my time demanding, protesting, and advocating for African Americans and other minorities to enjoy the same right to live as the white man does.

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Historical Summation

In "Remembering Martin Luther King as a Man, Not a Saint". Hampton Sides argues that the humanity of Martin Luther King needs to be expressed. He argues that the image of Martin Luther King disheveled and overweight, arguing against the Vietnam War, losing friends in the White House, and losing his marriage need to be brought to light not to defame him but to show that greatness can be found in anyone. He argues that imperfect heroes are necessary so we can fully appreciate them. The "moral ambiguity" of King points to both the sinner and saint within everyone. Sides argues that the reason we need the imperfect King and not the saintly man is because within every human is the potential for great things mixed with the messy things.

MLK's Assassination

MLK and his group were called to Memphis, TN in 1968 to support a worker's strike. King's words the day before his assassination were eerily prophetic, “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” The following day, April 4, 1968, King was assassinated by sniper while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Interestingly, the man accused, Mr. James Earl Ray, admitted guilt and later recanted it. King's remaining relatives believed him.
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Works Cited

Jones, Clarence B. "Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on His 86th Birthday." The Huffington Post., 15 Jan. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.

King, Martin L., and Clayborne Carson. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Intellectual Properties Management, 2001. Print.

Sides, Hampton. "Remembering Martin Luther King as a Man, Not a Saint." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 3 Apr. 2011. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.

"Martin Luther King Jr. - Biography". Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 23 Apr 2015. <>