Martin Luther King

.. that he soon found himself in that role. His leadership was not limited to speaking from a podium, i.e. taxied people during bus boycotts in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955-56. *censored*From childhood he was grounded in the idea of a personal God.

He believed in the dignity and worth of all humans. During his post-graduate years, he became most influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and his idea of non-violent resistance. Due to differences in situations, it was uncertain whether the same tactics would work, i.e. in India, the majority was in support of Gandhi where in the United States the black population is a minority. Personality develops and grows with us but Dr. King never lost focus of his goals. One of his childhood goals was realised as he began his ministry and public speaking; that was to speak with eloquence and , ” big words”.

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He preached a social gospel to fulfil his dream of a just society for all: “..the church must incessantly raise its voice in prophetic warning against the social evils in all the institutions of the day. The church must not try to be a state or an economic order, but remaining in its own role as conserver and voice of the state and the economic order. In all its judgements it must avoid even the appearance of being one organisation competing for power and prestige among other organisations. Its peculiar power lies not in self-seeking but in searching for truth and justice and peace for all, in the spirit of Jesus Christ. For this, too, is part of being “first” by being “slave of all”. Dr. King knew from personal experience and looking around at others that confidence needed to replace fear and pride replace humiliation. In order to do this there had to be desegregation in the southern states.

Whites and coloured people should be able to sit anywhere on public transit on a first come first served basis. Blacks should not have to give up their seats to whites. White and coloured signs should come down from public washrooms and fountains. Blacks should be served at all lunch counters and restaurants and hotels. Other goals included programs for the poor and not just blacks but all, and work for the unemployed.

All these gaols were to be obtained without violence, by peaceful civil disobedience. He told his followers to meet violence with non-violence. He did not wish to have people hurt on either side of the issue. His hope was to redeem the white majority from the evil of their ways. “We Shall Overcome”- and they did overcome! There was desegregation in many areas in most southern states.

Poverty was reduced and employment increased. Dr. King had attitudes that guided him. He believed in human dignity, individuality, and community. What was his attitude toward his fellow man? He believed in agape, a love for all men.

He believed people are basically good and will change from their evil ways once they are shown and taught the difference. MLK was courteous. As a child he would,” turn the other cheek”, showing even then a preference for non-violence. In all that he did, Martin Luther King, Jr. was not afraid.

He did not fear physical harm or what men might say. But injustice angered him. “Justice too long delayed is justice denied”. An unjust law is contrary to Gods moral law. Therefore, it is not wrong to stand opposed to such laws, or to find oneself in prison for disobeying immoral laws.

His aim was not to break the law, but to change it. Dr. King was disappointed that most white churches did not support the cause of their black brothers and sisters. Although, statements by national agencies of various denominations denounced segregation, the local congregations often supported the status quo. In regard to perception, Dr.

King was able to see the powerful combination of Christian love and non-violence. He knew the importance of religion to the black southern community. He was able to accept and adopt wise counsel, i.e. in choosing to be a preacher. From the pulpit he could reach the people.

MLK was well aware of Negro stereotypes and in college made pains to avoid such labels being attached to him. As he grew in understanding of humanity he knew to speak to individuals on a one to one basis to get a truer picture of them and the situation. There were times when Dr. King found himself between two extremes. On one hand, those who had given up ever seeing a change in the way things were.

They would accept the status quo and live without the respect all humans deserve. On the other hand, were militant groups, i.e. Black Power Movement, who believed in violence to achieve their goals. Martin Luther viewed moderate white people as a stumbling block as they were anxious for order but not necessarily justice. Peace to whites often meant suppression of black people. Dr. King could see the, “big picture”, of the political climate. He realised the effectiveness of white brutality to the black cause as the American public was shocked and horrified as they viewed on television.

Then they and the government were moved to action. Dr. Kings self-esteem is surrounded by love, growth, character, values, achievement, meaning, and self-actualisation. From childhood he knew his value as a human being made in the image of God. He believed in, “loving oneself, loving ones neighbour, and loving God”. Still there was the tension of being black and knowing he was equal while being treated as a lesser human being. Martin Luther had doubts like anyone.

He held up under amazing odds. How long could his people continue to suffer on the marches? But he was not moved by lies, i.e. attempts to separate he and his wife. His faith was in God and did not fear what men could do to him. Dr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., developed habits that contributed to his success. From a very young age he read and was more advanced intellectually. He finished highschool by age 15. As mentioned, church was important. He was deliberate and patient in his endeavours, disciplined and hard working.

Dr. King was well-read in the history of his people as well as in great literature, philosophies, etc. He developed his oratory skills. He lead many marches and went willingly to jail to further freedom for his people. Being organised, he became the first president of the , Southern Christian Leadership Conference [SCLC] and remained president until his death.

Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) was a born leader but more importantly an excellent manager of his people. This is observed as early as 1955 when blacks launched a boycott against the city of Montgomery by refusing to obey the citys rules mandating segregation on buses. The group elected MLK as president of the newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association. He was able to motivate, transform and adapt to situations with his followers and lead them to success with the Montgomery Improvement Association.

This was not to be his last position as a leader of many people. He also founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was their president in 1957. The list of his accomplishments go on and on and an entire paper can be written on these and we will only make reference to these to give evidence of his leadership, character and ethics. There are certain traits that make MLK a great leader which are directly consanguine to his managerial skills. It is difficult to be a great leader without great managerial skills. Most prominent in MLKs Life as a leader is his way with words.

His speechs and sermons were the fuel for the smoldering coals to ignite the people that followed him and his beliefs. He spoke creatively and cleverly and at the same time was diplomatic and tactful which is evident in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom. His actions demonstrated his dependability, desire to influence others, persistency and high energy level. All of which were eminent in his book Stride Towards Freedom which he published in 1958 and ambitious action in touring India to increase his knowledge of Gandhian non-violent philosophies. Although portrayed as the pre-eminent black spokesperson, MLK did not mobilize mass protest activity during the first few years after the Montgomery boycott.

He moved cautiously launching a wave of sit-in protests during the winter and spring of 1960 showing that he was knowledgeable of the task as a whole, was well organized and willing to assume responsibility. MLKs identity was known all to well in North America and is attributed to his many books, speeches and writings. During the year following the March, MLK renown grew as he became Time magazines Man of the Year and then in 1964 was the recipient of the Nobel Peace prize. Despite all the fame and accolades MLK faced many challenges to his leadership. However MLKs effectiveness in achieving his objectives was not limited and after achieving his objectives in Albany, MLK recognized the need to organize his protests in order to better represent his people and to strengthen their organization. Much of his identity was formed by his father.

At a very early age MLK resented religious emotionalism and often questioned literal interpretations of scripture, but he always greatly admired black social gospel proponents such as his father who always viewed the church as an instrument for improving the lives of African American. President of Morehouse College Benjamin Mays further shaped his identity by influencing him to become a minister and serve society. His continued skepticism led him towards theological studies at Crozer Theological Seminar in Chester Pennsyvania and at Boston University where he received his doctorate in systematic theology in 1955. All of which were commensurate to his identity that is most evident in his famous “I have a dream” oration. Even after his death MLK, his identity and his beliefs have remained a controversial symbol of the African American civil rights struggle, revered by many for his sacrifice on behalf of non violence and condemned by others for his militancy and revolutionary views.

A crucial period in MLKs deliberations about his career came during the summer of 1947, wed he led religious services for his fellow student workers at a tobacco farm in Simsbury, Connecticut. Even before leaving Atlanta he had received his preaching license. After several weeks of deliberation, he telephoned his mother to tell her of his intentions to become a minister. His initial inclination to become a doctor or a lawyer was overwhelmed by an underlying urge to serve god and humanity. He had made this decision through a culmination of experiences.

“My call to the ministry was neither dramatic nor spectacular,” and he later wrote in his application to seminary: It came neither by some miraculous vision nor by some blinding light experience on the road of life. Moreover, it was a response to an inner urge that gradually came upon me. This urge expressed itself in a desire to serve God and humanity, and the feeling that my talent and commitment could best be expressed through the ministry…I came to see that God had placed a responsibility upon my shoulders and the more I tried to escape it the more frustreted I would become. This statement best exemplifies the vision of MLK not of what he planned to do in specifics but his life as a whole which led to those accomplishments and his successful yet short lived career. One of MLKs most important as well as most difficult to proclaim is his ability to choose.

Choice is very difficult when one direction can lead you down while the other can take to the top of the mountain. We feel that it was the responsibility that he felt to his people that drove his choices. Other influences included his religious beliefs that helped to guide his decision making. All of his choices are very decisive and assertive to benefit and further his ideals and vision. He also made sure that he was making the right choice and once his mind was made up he let his self-confidence take over. This can be seen with his choice to join the clergy.

After many years of disputing the views of his father, a minister, he had a vision that the best way to serve the people was to become a pastor. In order to make choices we feel that being able to adapt to situations is very important and this is a trait that is very prominent in MLKs life. It is difficult to find specific situations where MLK made good and bad choices but any time a choice was made all possibilities were always taken into effect and were made on behalf of the African American race in the fight against segregation. Given the academic environment in which he attended graduate school, it is not surprising that MLKs behavior did not explicitly draw upon the insights of African-American religion. Yet, his graduate school writings understated the degree to which his behavior had been shaped by African-American religion and its writings.

MLKs mental development reflected his lifelong tendency to incorporate the best elements of each alternative in his behavior. Most of his behavior could be witness in and through his sermons. Such evidence can be seen as early as 1954 when he gave his “Rediscovering Lost Values” sermon. He said: “The real problem is that through our scientific genius weve failed made of the world a neighborhood, but through our moral and spiritual genius weve failed to make it a brotherhood.” His behavior was in line with his values and beliefs and was presented in accordance with the task at hand which at that time was the importance of morals and ethical relativism in our society. Bibliography Ansbro, John J., Martin Luther King, Jr., The Making of a Mind, 1982, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY. Lowery, Linda, Martin Luther King Day 1987 Carolrhoda Book – Minneapolis, Minnesota McPhee, Penelope; Schulke, Flip, King Remembered 1986 W.W.

Norton& Company, Inc. Washington, James M. , “I Have a Dream” , 1992, Harper San Francisco Claybourne Carson, Kings Biography, 1996, Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Project Paul E. Johnson, Martin Luther King jr. and the African-American Social Gospel, 1996, http://www.leland.stanford.edu Albert, Peter J.

We Shall Overcome, Da Capo Press, New York, 1993. Archer, Jules. They Had a Dream, Penguin Books, New York, 1993. Schulke, Flip. King Remembered, Pocket Books, New York, 1986. Washington, James M. I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World by Martin Luther King, Harper, San Fransisco, 1992.

Washington, James M. Martin Luther King, Jr.: The Peaceful Warrior, Pocket Books, New York, 1968.