Today, January 18th, marks a day of celebration and remembrance for one of the most influential figures in American history, Martin Luther King Jr. Through his effective strategies of peaceful protesting and subtle yet highly impactful acts of resistance, King played a massive role in orchestrating a shift in the civil rights of the United States. What helped him to achieve such accomplishments were the ideals he held and instilled within his followers. Throughout his career, King advocated for coexistence, mutual respect, and affinity within the community, regardless of race or social status. His primary values of faith, non-violence, self-improvement, respect, and a strong familial foundation, all ultimately founded upon his strong belief in the Bible, are what set him apart as one of the most remarkable historical figures.
However, even after establishing an incredibly just level of equality in America, today’s quest for so-called civil rights has transformed the peaceful movement for fairness and equal treatment into a disgraceful onslaught. The modern, evolved organizations claiming to advocate for the notion of “social justice” push for ideas that directly oppose Dr. King’s principles. If the true desire for Americans is to progress in society, his ideals must be preserved within this nation. King accomplished several monumental goals during a time where the black population was truly oppressed by society. Rather than adopting a victim mentality and attempting to overthrow their oppressors like our modern social justice warriors, King peacefully worked towards creating a prosperous, respectful community, where everyone was truly equal.
During the time of King’s activity in civil rights, lasting from the mid-1950s to his assassination in 1968, the black community had been suffering for decades under the oppression of the horrific Jim Crow Laws. This series of laws were in effect for roughly 100 years, being essentially terminated the same year as King’s death. Their aim was to marginalize African Americans by denying them several basic rights. Those who attempted to defy Jim Crow laws often faced severe punishments ranging anywhere from fines to death.
King’s involvement in civil rights began in 1955, when a black woman was arrested for denying to yield her seat to a white man on a public bus, directly violating the racial segregation laws of Alabama. Rosa Parks’s courageous act of defiance inspired several African American activists to launch the incredibly effective Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, only 26 at the time, ultimately organized and led the movement, which lasted for over a year. The campaign eventually resulted in the termination of the Alabama state and Montgomery city bus segregation laws.
After this immense success, King continued in his activism. Aside from constantly bringing publicity to major civil rights efforts and promoting non-violence, King also contributed to founding the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, serving as its first president. King used the power of his words to inspire the black population, delivering several famous speeches throughout his career. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most popular in American history, second only to Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address.” Rather than arousing anger, violence, or a hunger for revenge in his followers, King used his gifts of leadership to inspire peace and biblical values. King’s actions contributed to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, ending legal public segregation and prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of race or religion. The same year, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his remarkable leadership and devotion to the civil rights movement.
Present-day activists groups, however, have adopted motives that dramatically oppose King’s lifelong teachings. The excessive and severe use of violence, vandalism, and destruction alone is a drastic contradiction to his legacy of peace and respect towards absolutely everyone. Even during King’s time, where true racism, oppression, and inequality were overwhelmingly corrupting America, he and his followers refused to succumb to a state of self-pity or bloodthirsty victim-mentality, and courageously and civilly caused a change. “Let no force, let no power, let no individuals, let no social system cause you to feel that you are inferior.” King urges in his “Some Things We Must Do” speech. Modern social justice warriors have publicly admitted and demonstrated their intent to ultimately destroy biblical values along with the nuclear family. As a Baptist preacher, King firmly believed in having faith, love, and a strong family foundation. “The group consisting of mother, father and child is the main educational agency of mankind,” he once stated, signifying the family in a child’s life plays the most crucial role in educating and training up a child.
Today, some of the more publicized groups claiming to fight for civil rights strive to completely overthrow and overpower anyone who disagrees with them. Many overlook the flaws within their own community and demand forms of reparations, believing that because their ancestors struggled greatly they are personally entitled to everything the world has to offer. King and his followers, however, had no desire to conquer their oppressors. Instead, they longed to meet a level of equality, companionship, and amiableness. He was also sure to remind the black community that they had their own imperfections to amend, and highly pushed for self-improvement and taking responsibility. “Let us be honest with ourselves, and say that we, our standards have lagged behind at many points. Negroes constitute ten percent of the population of New York City, and yet they commit thirty-five percent of the crime. St. Louis, Missouri: the Negroes constitute twenty-six percent of the population, and yet seventy-six percent of the persons on the list for aid to dependent children are Negroes. We have eight times more illegitimacy than white persons. We’ve got to face all of these things. We must work to improve these standards. We must sit down quietly by the wayside, and ask ourselves: ‘Where can we improve?’ ” Here, King blatantly states the fact that they themselves are not perfect and must take the time to contemplate and improve these flaws.
Martin Luther King Jr was by far one of the most admirable and effective historical leaders. His unique, peaceful approach to resisting oppression through non-violent protests, boycotts, and giving inspirational speeches, left an immense impact on history, far greater than any means of violence would have been able to create. King showed the world how to remain civilized and respectful yet highly effective in letting your voice be heard. He demonstrated that even in a trying time of inequality and suffering, one must not view himself as the victim, and must push through. The ideals of self-improvement, respect, a strong familial foundation, faith, and the goal of achieving a level of mutual companionship are what caused this historical movement to take place. We must remember his legacy and lesson to be able to coexist with mutual respect and friendship. We must preserve his principal sentiment evaluating someone, not based on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character, which applies to people of all races. In order to maintain a more gracious and harmonious country, these values must be conserved. King famously declared that he had a dream of a world in which people of all racial backgrounds coexisted in respect and love. We have come so far from King’s time, and have achieved that level of equality, but we must always remember and cherish the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in order to keep his dream alive.
Betts, Jennifer, “What Did Martin Luther King Do for the Civil Rights Movement?” biography.yourdictionary.com, https://biography.yourdictionary.com/articles/martin-luther-king-progress-civil-rights-movement.html
History.com Editors, “Civil Rights Act of 1964” HISTORY.com, A&E Television Networks, Jan 4, 2010, https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/civil-rights-act
History.com Editors, “Jim Crow Laws” HISTORY.com, A&E Television Networks, Feb 28, 2018, https://www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/jim-crow-laws
History.com Editors, “Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the March on Washington” HISTORY.com, A&E Television Networks, Feb 9, 2010. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/king-speaks-to-march-on-washington
History.com Editors, “Rosa Parks Ignites Bus Boycott” HISTORY.com, A&E Television Networks, Feb 9, 2010, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/rosa-parks-ignites-bus-boycot
King, Martin Luther, Jr. “’Some Things We Must Do,’ Address Delivered at the Second Annual Institute on Nonviolence and Social Change at Holt Street Baptist Church” kinginstitue.standford.edu, https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/some-things-we-must-do-address-delivered-second-annual-institute-nonviolence
Lewis, L. David, “Martin Luther King Jr. American Religious Leader and Civil Rights Activist” Brittanica.com, July 20, 1998, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Martin-Luther-King-Jr/additional-info#contributors