MLK & His Influence Today

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Photo by Stetson University

Millions. He inspired millions to stand up and say “No more”. Today, he is considered one of the most influential civil rights leaders to have ever lived. Professional speaker, pastor, and leader, nothing could hold Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from speaking his mind. 

 

However, now in 2021, half a century later, things are still in progress. White supremacy groups still roam the U.S. and there are still people who wouldn’t listen to MLK no matter what he said. The fight for racial equity is still in full swing, and leaders are fighting daily for their people. Not just Black communities, but Hispanic, Latino, Asian American, Native American, and Muslim American communities as well. 

 

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was exposed to the racial separation, as the schools that he attended were always segregated. However, despite the challenges and opposition, King persevered, and graduated as president of the predominantly white, Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. Later, he attended Boston University, where he met his future wife, Coretta Scott. Among his achievements are, being a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, leading the bus boycotts, and multiple speeches, such as, according to PBS, the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, and the famous “I’ve been to the Mountain Top” speech. Tragically King was assassinated in the morning after his “I have a Dream Speech”. His touch can still be seen in the Civil Rights Movement today. 

 

According to CNN, though Dr. King is no longer able to speak on live television, his message continues through people like Dolores Huerta. Huerta is a Mexican American Civil Rights leader.

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“Racism is a sickness,” said Huerta in response to the January 6th U.S. Capital riots. “Many Americans with that sickness stormed the nation’s Capitol recently as racism feeds fascism. Racism stems from ignorance and creates hate, fear, violence, and destruction.”

 

 Many aspects of Dr. King’s way of protesting can be seen in this quote, such as belief in peace, as well as the destructive power of racism.

 

Huerta also states, “Dr. Martin Luther King warned us that racism threatened the very foundation of our democracy. Racism began with slavery, the oppression of workers, the subjugation of women and children.” 

 

It is clear from this quote that Dr. King understood democracy. It also shows that he cared about the United States, because he wanted the U.S. to have strong foundations of democracy that would be for everyone, not just the white population.

 

Another person involved in the civil rights movement is NBA athlete Jaren Jackson Jr., who says that the Dr. King quote that resonates most with him is: “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”

 

 “This quote resonated with me the most given our current climate because we have become so polarized.” Said Jackson.

MIAMI, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 23: Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies looks on against the Miami Heat during the first half at American Airlines Arena on October 23, 2019 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

 Jackson Jr. says: “We no longer sit down and have conversations about our differences and as Dr. King said, it’s purely out of fear of what we don’t know about each other.” 

 

Dr. King was willing to reach out and try to get along with his political enemies. That much can be derived from this quote. However, also true is the part of the quote that says: “People fail to get along because they fear each other.” If people could just talk it out, then there would be so much more understanding, as well as sympathy. There would also be less violence, which is what Dr. King wanted.

 

Dr. King set an amazing example for how communities should push for racial equality. He said we should be peaceful, and non-violent, or as is heard often, “Kill ‘em with kindness”. Dr. King sets an amazing example for everyone of love, determination, perseverance, and hope, and it’s time for his dream to fully come into fruition.