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In an America so deeply perverted by racism, one man piloted a vast movement that empowered his people to become something more than simple cotton field workers: Martin Luther King Jr. Through his devotion to a backward country that lynched and beat his kind, King advanced the status of African Americans across the United States — from segregated villains to America’s bittersweet heroes. His gift to the world was his brainchild, the Civil Rights Movement, which King embodied to its entirety. This movement freed the African American man from the shackles of racism and gave him a reformed America. And what is so amazing about King’s activist project wasn’t that it started off as a grassroots movement or that it even garnered support from Caucasian white males, it was because he fought through a method so unconventional, so rare, and so unknown to America: Peace and faithful protests.
Without King’s vast contributions, America today might still be trapped in a dirty affair with racism. Although his movement took action on a national scale, it had a ripple effect outside of America’s borders and set a standard for the rest of the world. From South Africans seeking to liberate themselves from their colonial oppressors to women of America demanding equality, millions were given hope by the nonviolent protests led by King. In South Africa particularly, it gave hope to its persecuted population of Africans and empowered the anti-apartheid movement that was happening at nearly the same time. In America’s closed borders though, King worked the most magic and accomplished something African Americans have longed for through the generations: the ending of the legalized and historical segregation of African Americans, which manifested in the form of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Considered one of the greatest feats of King’s Civil Rights Movement, this monumental document banned Jim Crow laws and prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, and sex, among other colossal changes. Without King’s efforts, this historic piece of legislation would have never become binding law. Without King’s dedication, African Americans might still be badgered by the signs that read “white only” and “blacks not allowed.” Without his selfless devotion, the everyday African American father might still need to explain to his five-year-old son why he can’t go to the arcade all his white friends frequent. Without King’s allegiance to his country, the average African American mother might still need to piece together an answer for her five-year-old daughter who questions why she can’t be friends with the white boys. Without King’s lifelong toil, ordinary African American children might still need to trek long miles every morning in order to attend Blacksville Elementary — their assigned segregated black school — when Whiteman Elementary — a segregated white school — was only one block from their house. Without King’s contributions, African Americans today might still be living a real-life horror story in the daunting corners of black-hating America. Fortunately, through his great contributions to society, Martin Luther King Jr. concluded this terrible story and gave millions of African Americans a place to call home — bringing on a halcyon period that endures to this day.
From the dear age of 5, King first felt the stinging darts of racism as he entered into public school in Atlanta, Georgia. Although his parents made the best of their efforts to shield him from racism, King became aware of what plagued him and America. But instead of settling with his situation like so many of his black brothers and sisters did, King wanted change — he wanted to transform America. In his short life, he was a family man with a beautiful wife and four beautiful children; he was a priest who preached powerful Sunday sermons; he was a rhetorician that moved the hearts of his vast crowds with his speeches; he was a Nobel Peace Prize winner for his noble accomplishments; he was a lodestar among even the greatest activists; but most importantly, he was a man that took on his oppressors lovingly and replied to their hate and malice with something beautiful: love and peace. And the moment he was shot and murdered on April 4, 1968, the world cried a little and fell silent.
King’s whole life was dedicated to transforming the world and so he did. His messages of non-violent protests and peace echoed throughout the entire Earth and through every person. The policies he championed ended a nearly 300-year history of racist bigotry and taught America to love. His speeches — including his famous “I Have a Dream” and “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speeches — all speak to a greater future he envisioned. Simply put, King’s life exhibited a certain instinct. It was a kind of servant instinct — a desire to serve, a desire to redefine his nation, a desire to clear the obstacles obstructing his peoples’ path, and a desire to act as a stepping stone to do so. And it is something that only a few among even the wisest and greatest of written history exhibit.
Today, America has been rebirthed thanks to Martin Luther King Jr. His brainchild, the Civil Rights Movement, took on generations of African American miseries and desires and manifested it all in the form of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Through this movement, King added a splash of colour to an America dyed by the corrosive bleach of racism. He radically changed his beloved nation in its foundation and helped America break free of its racist traditions. As a person, King was a man decorated with great accolades and awards. But that life — his secular life — was not what he wanted us to remember him by. King didn’t want us to remember him by the prestigious college he went to; he didn’t want us to remember his name by the hundreds of awards he won in his lifetime; he didn’t want us to recall his name by his countless appearances on national television and the radio. He wanted us to remember him by the great gospel of his work — that he loved his country, that he loved God, and that he loved his people.
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