Inspiration from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929–1968) was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963, and became not only the symbolic leader of American Blacks but also a world figure.
Success is having a good foundation upon which to build. Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen. He received a B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly White senior class, he was awarded a B.D. in 1951. He then enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955.
Success is making a difference. As a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, in 1955 Dr. King accepted the leadership of the first great African American nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott that lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Blacks and Whites rode the buses as equals.
Success is standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the consequences. King was arrested many times, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as an African American leader of the first rank.
Success is knowing and using the power of words. “I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of a thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”
Success is extreme dedication and firm commitment. In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, Dr. King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles.
Success is knowing the power of peace and love. “Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love.”
Success is sharing. At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.
Success is being your best. “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
Success is inspiring others. Dr. King’s charismatic leadership continues to inspire men and women, young and old, in this nation and around the world.
Success is having a dream. “I have a dream that my four 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 today. I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with the little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.”
[Sources: http://www.nobel.se, http://thekingcenter.com/]
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)