“Free at Last:” The Heroic Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ryan Thomas
LENG_112 Critical Analysis
May 1st, 2012
Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated, “We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty” (as cited in “Martin Luther King, Jr.,” 2010, para. 9). During King’s life in the 1950s, the American society was shaped under the policy of “separate but equal,” as stated by Stephen VanLieu (n.d., para.1), a graduate student at Indiana University. However, for the African Americans equality was fruitless (VanLieu, n.d.). Oppression and disenfranchisement against the blacks in America was practiced by the superior whites, coining the blacks as a minority. Change was dreadfully called upon for the entire African American race and to achieve the desired alteration for the blacks, King took action. He exemplified his extraordinary leadership and rhetoric skills, along with tactics of nonviolent resistance during the Civil Rights Movement, accomplishing his goals of abolishing racism in America, as well as poverty. While racism and poverty began to grow in America, King fought strongly against these issues of social inequality by protesting and constructing many nonviolent movements. King’s movements vastly influenced social change in America, each striving towards freedom and equality for all races. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Birmingham Campaign, and the Poor People’s Campaign illustrated the most triumph. While America faced enormous racial conflicts, Martin Luther King, Jr. took a stand and saw the need to raise awareness and concern on the social inequalities of racism and poverty throughout his legacy. Undoubtedly, Martin Luther King Jr. was the most prominent figure of the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-twentieth century; all of his works and accomplishments for his articulated dreams of equality and freedom effectively altered the world of America during an era of cataclysm and change. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia to Martin Luther King, Sr. and his wife, Alberta Williams (VanLieu, n.d.). While growing up the King family was known for their financially stable middle-class lifestyle, thus Martin Luther King, Jr.’s education was far better than any other African American family. Recognizing that the majority of blacks were at the lowest-level of society, King, Jr. became greatly influenced to improve the lives of all blacks by “living a life of social protest” (Bretz, 2010, p. 19). Envisioning a successful American country sufficiently portrayed King’s continuous leadership and audacity. King’s father had modeled these characteristics, as well as courage, throughout his son’s childhood, taking part in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was a successful movement, leveling out the earnings of both white and black educators in Atlanta (John, 2011). Moreover, King’s father and his grandfather, James Albert King, were both involved in the pre-civil rights movement. The two undeniably inspired King to be proud of his own race, showing support of the black society by protesting and boycotting segregated services against African Americans. Even though the King family fought against racial discrimination, King, Jr. continued to stumble upon the social issue during his education in a mild but influential way. Throughout his educational career, King continuously illustrated his cleverness by his extraordinary speaking skills which allowed him to skip two grades during high school (“MLK, Jr. Research,” 2011). Although he was extremely intelligent, King was still an African American, hence segregation was constantly occurring among the white students and faculty members. One such example was when King was departing from Valdosta, Georgia after an “oratorical contest in which he earned the second place prize”...
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