Martin Luther King, Jr. and His Speech “I Have a Dream”

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man of wisdom who had a great impact on civil rights and how people view discrimination to this day. Coming from a long line of pastors, martin continued the family tradition becoming a pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1954. Martin was always working hard for civil rights and led the first Negro Nonviolent demonstration of his time. He went on to accomplishing great things from boycotts to speaking in front of thousands of people across the country to spread his word. Throughout his years of advocating for African Americans, King led a monumental and notable protest that caught the attention of thousands, planned drives in Alabama to help register voters, gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, spoke with John F Kennedy, was arrested over 20 times, and was awarded five honorary degrees. King was named man of the year by Time Magazine and is not only a significant leader of African Americans but know as a world figure.

Background

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta Georgia January 15, 1929 to Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. He was originally born with the name Michael King, but after a period his father went on to change both his and Jr. name to Martin. King was the middle child of three with an older sister and a younger brother. He spent his time singing with the church choir as music was one of his passions. His mother was an amazing choir singer and leader herself and introduced martin to multiple churches where he was recognized for his singing.

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King respected his father’s fearlessness and his view on segregation. He knew his father wasn’t going to let anyone tell him what to do or speak to him wrongfully. He would watch his father protest himself instead of being pushed around when the family was discriminated. Becoming friends with a white boy that lived near him, king had hope that whites and African Americans could live together peacefully. After a bit of time their friendship had to come to an end because his friend wasn’t allowed to hang out with him anymore. King felt discouraged growing up in such a segregated era where he couldn’t walk around without being discriminated. He soon started to grow hatred towards to white community for creating a terrible environment to live in for his family and neighbors.

With all the discrimination around him, king started to question the bible and Christianity. He didn’t believe that Jesus was resurrected and started doubting everything that the bible stood for. These were tough times for him, because of everything that was happening around him he couldn’t come forth to believe that Jesus was there for them. During his Sunday class, he would deny multiple things and lost hope in believing. King attended Brooker T. Washington High school. He engaged himself in debate groups and was known for having great public speaking ability’s. He was involved in a segregated situation when he was on a ride back home on a bus from wining an oratorical contest. Asked to stand up from his seat to let white folks sit down, king angrily refused but eventually moved to the back. This created feelings inside martin that would influence his future.

At the age of 18 king chose to enter the ministry instead of continuing school to follow his dreams in helping African Americans. At this point in life he reunited with the church and started suing his sermons to communicate his ideas and even protest. Kings early life shaped him for the man he became and what he set out to do.

His Message

As a minister in the 1950’s, king sought out to change the way white folks viewed African Americans. By engaging with white ministers, his idea was to get them on his side and to believe what was right. King believe that white folks would listen to white ministers who fought for equality and expressed their beliefs in it. He reached out to college kids to inform them that there were more open minded people that there seemed to be. King was expressing to the young community that people are afraid of getting shamed on for not following everyone’s else’s opinions on segregation. He wanted to influence the young community to make a change and accept equal treatment for African Americans. Through his message, he reassured that blacks didn’t anything against white but to create friendship and understanding to achieve equality.

One of Kings strategies on winning over the white community was to get white folks to support and work with him. Martin worked with multiple white liberals to create a connection as well as support from them. This allowed him to speak out within white liberals to get through the white community. During the early 1960’s civil rights was one of the top issues in America at its time. Martin Luther king was known throughout America as well as his views. Through white liberals he was able to spread word on black equality that would stick to the white community. Around this time people were stating to pay attention to what was going and becoming more opened minded to the situation.

King was always traveling to different cities and states to spread his word on civil rights because he believed where injustice anywhere was a threat to justice everywhere. He came across Birmingham where he was invited to speak. He delivered a powerful speech where he explained why he did what he was doing to create an understanding of why he was doing it. With his speech, he spread knowledge to the white folks to be more aware of segregation and why it needed to end. His message offended officials and was thrown in jail because of it. While in the Birmingham jail, he wrote a letter responding to the clergymen that believed his speech was unwise and untimely. The letter delivered a strong message as he pointed out past historical conflicts that were wrongful and afterwards came to light. This allowed King to express the wrong that was done to him and the wrong that was being done to the black community.

As time went on, martin mostly reached out to white moderates that were willing to settle for order over justice. King always spoke wise words and one of his strongest points was to refer to past times where the situation was similar. He once said that “We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive, oppressors never voluntarily gave up freedom to the oppressed – it always had to be demanded by extremists for justice” (the conversation). King used this strategy as a way to relate and simplify what he was trying to do to the closed minded. In reality you won’t find someone who will admit that the holocaust was a right thing to do but during that time Germans believed it was. Martin expressed these types of arguments to reach the attention of the white folks and to better communicate to them that over time people will understand that discrimination and segregation were wrongful acts.

One of Kings messages was economic justice. He wanted to find out what cause violence and if poverty had something to do with it. He partnered with president Lyndon Johnson to achieve a solution for poverty. He concluded that inequality was the major reason of economic injustice and that it was urgent to get this issue resolved to improve economic stability in the country. Martins voice reached out to everyone one when he delivered his “I have a Dream” speech in Washington. At point in his life he delivered his impactful message to over 200,000 people. With his wise words of wisdom, he spread his message on how he has a dream that one day everyone and anyone could join hands together and be in peace. A message that touched a lot of people and created hope for the black community.

Critiques

As one of the most monumental speeches to this day, critiques disagreed with martin king and didn’t agree with him. Criticism arisen almost every time king spoke out. After the speech was held place, FBI and other officials teamed up with the president to better monitor martin and his doings as they believed him to be dangerous to the community. Even though king had created some hope in changing people’s mind, others saw his goals to be wrong. The white community was fine with things being the way they were and went against what he stood for. This started a long going of criticism and crimes towards people who supported king and the strive for equality. Other activist were going the wrong way with violence creating a bad look on the black community. People were not up for the change and did not approve of the movement moving forward. Americans were not happy with the several movements that were going on like the freedom riders and were convinced that it was hurting any changes on ending segregation for blacks. Articles and newspapers kept the public up with everything that was going on at the time. Polls were created to see exactly how the white folks felt about the civil rights movement. One newspaper that came out with a poll was the New York time that reported that 57% of Americans believed that the civil rights movement had exceeded what it should have. White folks started to express that blacks were given everything on a silver platter and discrimination had changed towards the white community. More polls continued to come out to update the Americans on how exactly everyone felt about king and what he was doing. Polls kept on discouraging king with a majority of Americans stating that he was not helping the civil rights movement. King was not the only one getting criticized, another great activist Rosa Parks was on the same page as him getting bashed and hated on for expressing what they believed was right.

Martin Luther King And Malcom X

While they were both very respected leaders, Malcom and king had very different ways of expressing themselves and what they stood for. While Martin King was an advocate on nonviolence, Malcolm stood for different things and supported violence. As we know what king portrayed to the community, X had a sense of pride for the black community and didn’t want to bend over for anyone. He didn’t believe that by being patient and letting people walk all over you was going to achieve any sort of freedom. That why he supported violence and expressed self-defense. The two didn’t get along so well since they believed in different way to achieve freedom. Malcolm had criticized king for bowing down to the whites and letting them walk all over him. After a period of time of Malcom wanting to encounter King, they finally met. A picture was taken of the two smiling and holding hands, this became a strong symbol to everyone has they saw that two different sided people could come together in peace. Even though Malcom wanted violence for the community he stands for the black community in reaching freedom. Malcom and king were two different people that represented two different views but for the same reason. This gave the black community a good balance to fight for what was right.

Significance

The significance of martin Luther king was enormous. Every day he roamed the streets of the south he was in danger of someone hurting him, putting him in jail, and tarnishing his look. Every day he sacrificed himself to support a greater cause that has shaped our nation drastically. King was a man of hope that created hope for all the blacks going to discrimination during that time. His significance stays with us as we learn what it takes to become a great leader and role model. King had one of the most significant voices that spread light into segregation. We can thank him till this day for raising awareness of segregation and putting himself in front for others. While king died early in his life, his power of words influenced great adjustments to society. His nonviolent ways helped the black community in creating respect for other to not get frowned upon. He was able to convince a majority of black people to not fight back with the white community but to try and work with them to achieve success. This was extremely hard for the black community as they got abused and treated terribly by the white community. King has a power in himself to stay calm when things went bad and to be patient with everything that was going on. Martin goes down as one of the most significant advocates for the equality he created. His words opened doors for activists that came after him. He opened opportunity for the black community as well as giving them hope when there was none there. One of the major things he did was make people realize that everyone is created equal and that it doesn’t matter whether you are white, black, Asian, etc. you are equal to the person standing right next to you and no one can take that away. What martin Luther king Jr. is most significant for is making people understand exactly what he strived for. People knew he was right and what he was doing was correct but no one wanted to accept it or believe it. That is what King kept striving for, to simplify the concept that everyone is created equal and that they deserve equal rights.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, we can conclude that martin Luther king Jr. was one of the most impactful leaders in the world. If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t know if segregation laws would be in place to this day. King was a man of character, integrity, and passion for what he did. I truly believe that he created an opportunity not only for the black community but for race and nation out there. Blacks have come together with different races to conclude even bigger accomplishments and it all could’ve have been done if King himself hadn’t sacrificed every day to creating a change for the better. Looking back on what he did some say would be impossible. With a country that was heavily segregated no one believed that one day blacks and whites would come together. After years of perfecting the change we have a peaceful community mixed with all types of races that help each other. Equality has benefited everyone in it by allowing two races to work together to create a better solution. Who would have thought that one day there would be a black president and it was all thanks to the man himself and everyone around him that supported his movement. Not only did king provide hope for the community but he influenced and motivated other activists to act like Rosa parks and Malcolm X. We look at Martin as someone who paved the way for a successful future and without him maybe things would be different and society wouldn’t be as close as it is today. Martin Luther king Jr. died April 4, 1968, he lived on to be one of the greatest symbolic figures to ever exist.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. and His Speech “I Have a Dream”. (2022, Feb 15). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/martin-luther-king-jr-and-his-speech-i-have-a-dream/