The Most Influential Person of the 21st century
The Civil Rights Movement is one of the most important events of the history of the United States. Although many people contributed to this movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., is widely regarded as the leader of the movement for racial equality. Growing up in the Deep South, King saw the injustices of segregation first hand. King’s studies of Mahatma Ghandi teachings influenced his views on effective ways of protesting and achieving equality.
Martin Luther King’s view on nonviolence and equality and his enormous effect on the citizens of America makes him the most influential person of the twentieth century.
King can be considered influential in his preaching of nonviolent protest during the civil rights movement. King quickly realized that there were two alternatives in the struggle against “the forces of injustice” (Ansbro, 233): violence or nonviolence. He decided against violence for
obvious reasons. During this time in America, the African American community represented only ten percent of the total population. King felt that this made it impossible for African Americans who lack access to weapons to successfully wage a violent revolution against the white majority.
Any attacks by the civil rights workers or their followers would surely result in counter attacks by
the segregationists, resulting in the injury and deaths of many of King’s followers. With these points in mind, King came to the conclusion that the best strategy in gaining the rights of African American was the use of non-violent protest. He believed that violence only “intensifies evil,”
(Ansbro, 231) instead of promoting love and violence among all races. King’s purpose in promoting nonviolence direct action was to create a situation so crisis packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiations. He felt that practicing nonviolence would portray his followers as moral beings while making apparent the brutality of the segregationists. King’s preaching of nonviolence was monumental in succeeding in demonstrations such as the Montgomery bus boycott and the desegregation of public schools.
King’s reaching of nonviolent direct action furthers the arguments that King is the most influential person of the twentieth century.
Not only did King feel it was necessary to preach nonviolence in order to achieve equality among all Americans, he also felt it was important for his message to appeal to all people regardless of race. Despite of the injustice being inflicted upon them by the segregationists, King felt it was important for African Americans to love and respect people of all races. Realizing that
complete and equal separation of the races was virtually impossible, King felt that the most important aspect of the movement was for all people to eventually be able to live together in harmony. King believed that whites and black must have a mutual respect for one another or else American will become a nation in constant turmoil. King bestowed his views of love, respect,and equality to his followers, eventually gaining the respect of people of all races and classes.
King’s philosophy of nonviolent direct action, and his strategies for racial equality,affecting the conscience of the nation and reordered its priorities. His wisdom, his words, his actions, his commitment, and his dreams for social change, are intertwined with the American experience. Martin Luther King’s influence on the history of American makes him the most influential person of the twentieth century.
Ansbro, John. Martin Luther King, Jr. : The Making of a Mind.
New York: Orbis Books (1994)
231, 232. .