Martin Luther King Jr. And The Power Of Nonviolence

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When Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke people listened. Poor, rich, white, black, no matter the race, these individuals were seeking his words of peace. Due to King’s influential speeches, people offered to sing, march, and pray for justice with him. Being the face of the Civil Rights Movement, he played a significant role in pushing for peace and nonviolence to solve issues regarding racism. Half a century later, thousands of admirers are still working to carry on his legacy and fulfill the dream he could not achieve – reaching the promised land, where there is no racial injustice. Today, Martin Luther King is still remembered as one of the most influential leaders of his time which leads Americans to continue to view him as an angel that once roamed on Earth. While King had many accomplishments, historians tend to neglect the fact that he was just a regular human who also made mistakes in his life. Until this day, Americans mainstream the remembrance of Martin Luther King’s honorable work due to his dedication in nonviolent protest, his powerful speeches and writings, and his position as an ideal figure among many others.

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Martin Luther King advocated for the principle that nonviolence resistance was the most effective power against evil. According to King, “It is a sword that heals.” Fighting against racial injustice with nonviolence was a way for the black people to correct their rowdy, misunderstood image in front of Americans by offering peace and love instead of the physical fight to gain it. King used the power of words and nonviolent resistance to achieve his seemingly-impossible goals of desegregation. He was “morally and practically” committed to nonviolence to the point that he put his life as well as his family’s life in danger. King first experience the power of nonviolence at the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. He had decided not to use armed bodyguards despite “threats on his life, and reacted to violent experiences, such as the bombing of his home”. Then, in 1963, he was then arrested in Birmingham jail for peaceful protests against racism to restore love into the community and resists injustice. King showed his passion and determination for peace due to his belief that “the Christian doctrine of love operating through the Gandhian method of nonviolence was one of the most potent weapons available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom”. Gandhi was a major reason King transformed love into a powerful force that could be used for social change. He used the Christian faith and Gandhi’s success an “effective tools in the fight against evil and intolerance”.

To express his beliefs towards his decision of nonviolent protest, King wrote in the article Nonviolence and Racial Justice, “Nonviolent resistance does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent, but to win his friendship and understanding”. King’s life was filled with death threats. He repeatedly received threatening phone calls, however, instead of discouraging him, they “filled him with strength to carry on in spite of persecution”. Another time, Martin Luther King was rushed to Harlem Hospital, as he was stabbed in the chest with a letter opener. At the time King had bought a house in Atlanta, and the Klu Klux Klan attempted to threaten him by placing a burned cross in his front lawn, a sign to show their opposition to the movement. Other times, shots could be heard racing through King’s home, submerging his wife and children in fear. On January 30, 1956, King had been giving a speech during Mass in a Baptist Church, when his house was bombed. Luckly, his family was not injured. Till this day, Martin Luther King is honored for his sacrifices and the danger he put his entire family in to push for the success of the nonviolent movement. This was a significantly important goal, as racial injustice was starting to become a norm, a way of life for black citizens.

Americans still remember Martin Luther King’s golden mouth as he stood up strong defending African Americans. Not only was he such a powerful speaker, but he had the talent to convince the crowd with his ideas by delivering his point in an easy way for them to understand. Most of King’s speeches is focus on contemplating on one’s character, “superseding one’s skin color,” and evolving his thought on race and segregation. King opens most of his speeches with a scathing denunciation of the failed promises of white America to the black population. In this famous, “I Have a Dream” speech, given during the Washington March for equal jobs, King started off with the universal theme of the African American struggle, ending off by sharing his dream of equality. One of the most famous lines of the speech is, “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”. His words were so powerful and people felt that they could actually relate to him. It gave the public a sound of hope because they are not only fighting for themselves, they are fighting to make “justice a reality for all of God’s children”. He left a mark on each person standing in front of him that day, by ending his speech with “Free at last, Free at last, Great God almighty, We are free at last’.

Nonetheless, several times throughout his speeches, Martin Luther King was faced a tough crowd, determined to weaken his influence. For instance, as King was given his Youth March talk, he was “heckled by black nationalists” as he spoke for an integrated schools rally, “at a meeting outside Harlem’s Hotel Theresa”. Not only was Martin Luther King a powerful speaker, but he was also a powerful writer. During the Birmingham Campaign, Martin Luther King was arrested with many others for his nonviolent protest. In prison, he then took the time to write the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” where he expressed his disappointment toward whites and their resistance against change. King wrote that “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” (Letter from Birmingham). Throughout, Martin Luther King also expresses his anger towards the word “wait.” It rings into the ears of every Negro because this ‘wait’ has almost always meant ‘never.’ He saids, “We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights” (Letter from Birmingham).

Moreover, what is more significant to most American, currently, is that the night before Martin Luther King was assassinated, he shared with his peers his vision of the Promised Land in the speech of “I Have Been to the Mountaintop”. The audience was left in wonder as he described this heaven, encouraging everyone to never give up: “And I’ve looked over. And 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!”. Looking back, historians found the words in his speech to be very mysterious, as though they were foreshadowing his assassination the next day. Even though, Martin Luther King never shared the success and the independence the African Americans were able to achieve, he left a mark of determination, encouraging African Americans to finish what he started. Not only were Martin Luther King’s speeches influential towards African Americans, but helped him gain respect from white Americans as well. Because of the love and respect African Americans offer to Martin Luther King, they offered to go through the pain and follow his act of nonviolence to support the movement.

Due to Martin Luther King’s determination in the movement, people then viewed him and still view him as a role model, the perfect human figure. Not only did King inspire a lot of individuals, he pushed for the impossible and his work is still celebrated until this day. Throughout the generations, kids are being taught in school about his greatness and currently people remember the good things he had done and his achievements. Michael Fitzjohn, an African American Student, viewed Martin Luther King as this angle coming from heaven as he said, “I have few heroes. Martin Luther King is one of them”. He was seen as a hero, not only by African Americans, but worldwide, since he was able to hold strong to his believe and push for what is right. Although, through his many achievement, people tend to forget the fact that Martin Luther King is still a human being. Not only did he make a lot of defaults, he was able to wipe them off from the future generations. Revelations about his dark side keep tumbling out, forcing us to reconcile with King’s flawed humanity. Richard Stockton, and American writer, argued saying, “Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of the cameras and crowds as a public example of the better angels of our nature. In private, however, King was of a very different character”.

Most Americans, currently, might not have a clue about Martin Luther King’s true side. If the truth was told about him, many hope will be crushed. It is shocking to a lot of people that King has a Plagiarized Doctoral Dissertation. What most people do not know is that, it was King’s impressive academic credentials that put him on the spotlight of the early Civil Rights Movement and no one knew that it was plagiarized. However, during the Civil Rights Movement, it was hard for most African American to get a proper college education. Due to racism that was around the time, King was unable to get the education he deserved, thus, faking his degree. However, if only he had the opportunity to get a fair shot, he could have earned this degree thought his hard work. It is a known fact that King was so intelligent, that he skipped his first and last year at Booker T. Washington High School and went directly into college during his junior year at only 15 years old.

Moreover, it may seem that Martin Luther King was loved by all Americans, he was hated by the US government and FBI. He was seen as a “major threat to the US government and the Americans establishment because he dated to organise and mobilize black rage over past and present crimes against humanity targeting black folks and other oppressed people”. Moreover, he was also called “The Most Notorious Liar in Country” by the FBI Chief. These description were said to him by white people who were against desegregating. Therefore, since whites don’t feel the pain the African Americans have to go through due to racial segregation, whites were trying to ruin the image of Martin Luther King by trying to weak his power.

One of the most hidden faults about Martin Luther King was the affairs he had with multiple women even though he was married. The two, King and Scott, seem to be living happily together. This was only because of Scott’s ability to turn a blind eye to the countless affairs that King had while he was on the road. “The recordings, and the incidents they revealed shocked the FBI. Many times, King recruited multiple women – who appear to have been a mix of groupies and prostitutes, and who may have been paid with SCLC money – for post-speech trysts that ranged from plain 1-on-1 encounters to orgies involving half a dozen people”. However, even though he may have broken his wife’s heart by cheating on her, he was still able to stay true to the movement to achieve his goal. The reason why this was not public is that, King never showed any signs of being distracted by any pleasure needs. His personal problems can never be taken into an account against his success in life. After scientific research, it is proven that most men in their thirties have a 90 percent chance they have multiple sex partners. However, looking back at King, there might be some dark sides to his story, but Martin Luther King was able to achieve a lot. He was the youngest to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom award, Congressional Gold Medal, and Margaret Sanger Award. Overall, many people can agree on how successful Martin Luther King came to be. Throughout all the hardships he faced, he was able to protect his family and push for desegregation. He inspired other to become future leaders and carry his legacy. He led the Washington March, and played a big role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was one of the leaders of the Southern Christians Leadership Conference and Birmingham Campaign.

01 February 2021

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