Martin Luter King Jr

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A Leader of Respect:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Submitted By: Lorianne Fedée
Submitted To: Blake Lambert
Course Code: AHSS 2310 - 01
Due Date: Thursday, March 15th, 2012
A Leader of Respect:
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

There are various leadership traits and behaviors which make up an individual’s definition of an ideal leader. While some leaders may often possess similar leadership traits and behaviors, they do not necessarily acquire equal acceptance and likeability, thus, affecting how they are perceived by others and the level of respect and admiration they may receive. Personally, a leader of great respect is one who exemplifies the definition of leadership while maintaining inspiration and a positive moral development. Leadership is defined as the influencing process of leaders and followers to achieve organizational objectives through change (Lussier & Achua, 2010). A leader who could be argued to have achieved such a role is that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a product and an exemplar of black culture and tradition, and his vision gradually transcended southern particularism to assume national and international implications (Baldwin, 1992). Not only did Dr. King demonstrate the five key elements of leadership – influence, organizational objectives, leaders-followers, people, and change (Lussier & Achua, 2010) – throughout his American Civil Rights movement of thirteen years, until his assassination, but he had successfully done so while maintaining a charismatic and ethical style and behavior of leadership. Throughout the remainder of this essay, the movement of Dr. King will be discussed, as well, the traits and behaviors in which he displayed throughout his movement will be analyzed following the analysis of pertinent leadership theories. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man who possessed great courage for his moral commitment and determination to achieve social justice for the African-American community. Dr. King made use of the power of persuasion as well as the influence of his position, as a means to involving black Americans in realizing that they were in fact somebody (King & Washington, 1992). Through successfully doing so, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became the most important civil rights leader in the twentieth century for it was under his leadership that more African-Americans than ever before were inspired to demonstrate for their constitutional rights (King & Washington, 1992). Dr. King also introduced a non-violent protest as an effective strategy against unjust laws in the South, and he believed that through this non-violent movement conditions for black Americans would change (King & Washington, 1992). It is through Dr. King’s roots in the black family and church traditions that shaped his personality, his thought, his vision, and his activities as a preacher and social activist (Baldwin, 1992). The America that Dr. King had addressed was different from the America of today. The nation in which he addressed was one whose racial wrongs were sanctioned by unjust laws, resulting in the singling out of African-Americans as prime victims while also forcing them to accept a system designed to maintain the inferiority of their lives (King & Washington, 1992). In addition to voicing his doubts over the ability of capitalism to deliver social and economic justice, Dr. King also criticized the role of the United States in the 1965 war in Vietnam (Kumar & Whitefield, 2006). This criticism was evident through his speeches entitled, Beyond Vietnam and A Time to Break Silence, for they provided as his statement of opposition to the Vietnam War and the destructive effects of militarism (Carson, 1998). Some other prominent writings and speeches delivered by Dr. King throughout the American Civil Rights movement included his letter from the Birmingham Jail – which was hailed as a major statement on religious responsibility in social struggle; the Black Power Defined speech – which was a...
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