One of the world’s best known advocates of non-violent social change strategies, Martin Luther King, Jr., used a combination of many highly admirable qualities to convey his message of equality and advance the fight for civil liberties both in the United States and throughout the world. His quest for knowledge and mission to enlighten others brought about rational and non-destructive social change; his speeches and remarks stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation; his charismatic leadership inspired men and women, young and old, in the nation and abroad; his courageous and selfless devotion gave direction to thirteen years of civil rights activities. Kings desire for knowledge was evident from his early years. Due to high scoring on college entrance exams, he was only fifteen years old when he began freshman year at Morehouse College.Order now
His quest for knowledge did not end in the classroom, however. He continued to broaden his horizons throughout his entire life. On a visit to India in 1959, King was able to work out more clearly his understanding of Satyagraha, Gandhi’s principle of non-violent persuasion, which King had determined to use as his main instrument of social protest. King fouund ways to make all the things he had learned in his life usseful in his battle for civil liberty. King, with his new understanding of Gandis philosophy of non-violent direct action, was now prepared to use oration as his tool to spread the message of civil liberty. His words gave black and poor people a new sense of worth and dignity.
Kings speeches stimulated Southerners hearts and minds, and called them to fight for equality. Dr. King’s speech at the march on Washington in 1963 (I Have a Dream), his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize, and his final speech in Memphis are among his most famous orations. His words to this day inspire people to people to fight on in the battle for inequality. Kings gift of public speaking was one of the major reasons that he was such a charismatic leader. His ability to inspire people through speech, combined with his ability to untie people for the accomplishment of a common goal, made him one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century.
It was evident from his early adulthood, when fellow civil rights activists elected him president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, that he was a natural leader. He would continue to leader others throughout his life, leading them all the way to the Lincoln Memorial, where he made his famous I Have a Dream oration. Probably Kings the most admirable quality can only be measured qualitatively, not quantitatively. While one can count the number of awards King received (fifteen), or the number honorary degrees he holds (twenty), it is impossible to measure the amount of courage in the face of adversity that King exhibited. Despite physical assault, numerous threats on his life, and messages of self-defense and Black Nationalism from leaders such as Malcolm X, King remained committed to the use of non-violent techniques. However, King could only avoid the attempts of his opponents to suppress his message and repress his movement for so long, and on April 4, 1968, he was assassinated.
While Dr. Martin Luther King may have died that day, his wisdom, his words, his actions, and his commitment lives on in the hearts and minds of all those whom he inspired