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Martin Luther King - If I had a dream

Posted February 29, 2012 by Alex Bowman



Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 and died on April 4, 1968. He was an American activist, clergyman and prominent leader of the AfricanAmerican Civil Rights Movement. He is popularly known for his contribution on civil rights of the America and in the whole world, using nonviolent methods. Martin Luther King has become an icon of liberalism in the history of America. "If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned though' we may be, our destiny is tied up with America's destiny." Martin Luther King


Early in his career as a Baptist minister, Martin Luther King became a civil rights activist. He initiated the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and he founded and became president in Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957.


He was also known for his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington on March 1963.



Martin Luther King is the youngest person who received a Noble Peace Award about ending racial discrimination and racial segregation through civil obedience and using nonviolent methods.


"In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, as 'righttowork.' It provides no 'rights' and no 'works.' Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining... We demand this fraud be stopped." - Martin Luther King


Before his death, he focused on ending poverty and stopping the Vietnam War.



He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. After his death, he was awarded with Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. And U.S. established Martin Luther King Day on 1986.


Martin's Early Life


"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." Martin Luther King


Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents were Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King.



King disbelieved many Christianity's claims. Then he said, "doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly". He did not formally completed high school but he finished his college's degree at Morehouse with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and he even enrolled at Crozer Theological Seminary which he graduated a Bachelor of Divinity degree. Martin Luther King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953. And they had four children.


Martin also became a pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in the age of 25.
He also began studies in systematic theology and received his title as Doctor of Philosophy in June 5, 1955. Howard Thurman, a civil rights leader, a theologian and educator really influenced Martin Luther King. Howard Thurman tutored Martin Luther King and his friends back then.


Martin Luther King visited Mahatma Gandhi's birthplace in India. Mahatma Gandhi was known for his nonviolent methods of fighting for rights. This trip influenced Martin Luther King to fight for America's civil rights.


 "Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation." Martin Luther King


Bayard Rustin studied Mahatma Gandhi's teachings. He served as Martin Luther King's adviser and teacher.


Political Stature


Being the leader of SCLC, he never endorsed any political candidate in U.S.


 "I feel someone must remain in the position of nonalignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both--not the servant or master of either." Martin Luther King


In an interview dated in 1958, he expressed himself that neither of the party is perfect.

"I don't think the Republican party is a party full of the almighty God nor is the Democratic party. They both have weaknesses ... And I'm not inextricably bound to either party." Martin Luther King


He even critiqued the opposing parties on their promotion about racial equality.

"Actually, the Negro has been betrayed by both the Republican and the Democratic party. The Democrats have betrayed him by capitulating to the whims and caprices of the Southern Dixiecrats. The Republicans have betrayed him by capitulating to the blatant hypocrisy of reactionary right wing northern Republicans. And this coalition of southern Dixiecrats and right wing reactionary northern Republicans defeats every bill and every move towards liberal legislation in the area of civil rights." Martin Luther King


Martin's Speeches



"All I'm saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



He wrote the famous speech "I Have a Dream", a 17 minute speech intended for racial equality and to end racial discrimination.


During the Vietnam War


One year before Martin Luther King's death, he delivered a speech entitled "Beyond Vietnam". He questioned the role of U.S. during the war.


"A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: This is not just." Martin Luther King


Martin Luther King opposed The Vietnam War. He said that the war took all the money and resources that should have spent on services for public welfare. The U.S. congress spent more on military rather than the antipoverty programs.


 "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death." Martin Luther King


King even spoke to the AntiVietnam demonstration where he emphasized on the issues of civil rights. "I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civilrights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civilrights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both." Martin Luther King


He even talked about racial discrimination. "We were taking the young black men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. ... We have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them in the same schools." Martin Luther King



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