It was really easy for me to choose who my first profile would be on. Given the specific timing I thought it would be appropriate. Today, America will be celebrating the inauguration of our first African American President. Whether I voted for him or not (I didn’t), this is cause for celebration. And no, I’m not profiling Barack Obama. But I’ve no doubt that Obama would not be where he is today without standing on the shoulders of giants. This first post of mine is profiling Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
King certainly did not fight the battle of civil rights alone, but without a doubt, he was a leading general and a powerful force in it. His legacy is rich and far-reaching, with people from all walks of life and around the world considering him to be a hero. He was even voted as the 2nd most widely admired person of the 20th Century, in a Gallup list. But his own history and character is what helped to shape him into that powerful force.
In 1929, King was born to the Reverend Michael and Alberta King. He was named after his father and both were known as Michael until the family took a trip to Europe in 1934 and visited Germany. Upon returning home, Michael Sr. changed both of their names to Martin Luther King (Sr. and Jr.) in honor of the great Protestant reformer Martin Luther. King Jr. grew up as a preacher’s kid and became a preacher himself. He was a Godly man and his love of and service for God was what propelled him to become the man he did.
It was his experience as a preacher that made King such an exceptional communicator, whether writing or speaking. He was a man passionate about freedom for all and equally passionate about the power of peace. With hate and violence all around him, he responded with love and peace. There was great strength in his activism because he truly believed that love covers hate, good overcomes evil and light pushes back the darkness. With that in mind, he organized non-violent protests and marches, which drew much media attention that exposed flagrant segregation, discrimination and horrid indignities suffered by the black community everywhere, but particularly in the south.
His work in the civil rights movement had much to do with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. His belief in his life work was so strong he was willing to die for it. He had a dream for equality and inspired countless others to fight for that dream too. King also believed that character makes the man and lived his own life accordingly. Service was a part of his life and quoted Jesus in saying “he who wants to be the greatest among you must be a servant.” He also said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
For his life work, King has been awarded numerous awards. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He’s been awarded at least 50 honorary degrees from colleges & universities in the U.S. and elsewhere. Time Magazine named him person of the year. In addition, he has been awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Oddly, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America awarded King the Margaret Sanger (founder of PP) Award for "his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity,” which is ironic due to the well-known, lifelong, racist and pro-Nazi views of Ms. Sanger. On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor King and it was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986.
On April 4th, 1968, King was assassinated. The assassination ended the life of a great man, but it did not end the movement and life work of that great man. Martin Luther King Jr. lived a life of service and passionately fought, peacefully, for something greater than himself, freedom and equality for all.
Now, forty years later, his legacy and his dream live on. Now, forty years later, America has her first African American president. Have we reached the promise land he so eloquently spoke of? I don’t know if we have or not. But I am reasonably certain he would be pleased that this highest of milestones has been reached. Martin Luther King Jr. was a good man, a man who understood that character counts.
Quotes from MLK Jr.:
~ A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.
~ I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
~ Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
~ If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
~ Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
~ Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
~ He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
~ 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. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.
~ I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go to the mountain. 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.
14 hours ago