Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. is a symbol of social justice all over the United States. Everything King did started with his childhood. His parents taught him about how blacks were treated and why it shouldn’t be like that (“Martin Luther King Jr. – Biography”). They said that God made everyone equal but some people were just too ignorant to see it. From a young age King was exposed to the segregation and cruelness of the world he lived in. He knew that it wasn’t right and someone needed to stand up and stop it. Martin Luther King Jr.’s home life and childhood helped him achieve equality for both blacks and whites.
Dr. King was born on Tuesday, January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents are Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. He has an older sister, Willie Christine King, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King. King was born into a financially secure middle-class family in a poor, black community. He was very privileged in the fact that he received better education than most people of his race (“Martin Luther King Jr. – Biography”). Martin Luther King Jr. always excelled in school. He attended segregated public school in Georgia until he was fifteen. He went to Morehouse college, the same place that his father and grandfather went, and graduated with a degree (Dyson). Later, he received his final doctorate in 1955 at Boston University (school which taught both blacks and whites).
Martin Luther King Jr.’s parents taught him to notice and respond to injustices. King yearned for everyone to have equal opportunities. The Kings were a very close family that did many things together. The children took piano lessons from their mother and excelled quite rapidly. The whole family was also interested in sports including: football and baseball. When King was very young, he started as a paperboy, and when he grew up he always dreamed of being a fireman and helping people (“Martin Luther King Jr. Childhood”). Martin Luther King Sr., was certain his son was going to be a pastor. Martin Jr.’s grandfather was a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church and when he died Martin’s father took over (“Martin Luther King Jr. – Biography”). It was expected that King would follow the line of pastors. Martin loved to tell others of God and His plan for the world and it was a perfect fit.
Martin Luther King Sr. was a very big influence on King’s life. He was a Baptist minister and was in charge of the children’s moral and religious education (“Martin Luther King Jr. Childhood”). To Dr. King, his father was a model of courage and compassion. King Sr. “had led a successful campaign to equalize the salaries of white and black teachers in Atlanta” (“Martin Luther King Jr.,” SparkNotes). He worked hard for the rights of people and taught his son to do it too. King Jr. knew from a young age that people didn’t have the same rights and he couldn’t understand why. He tried to understand it, but he couldn’t see how a man could despise another man so much just because of the color of his skin. King once said, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” (“Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes”). He wanted people to see each other as being people. Not to be judged on their race, religion, gender, age or anything except their character and what they are willing to do to change things in the world. “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” -Martin Luther King Jr. (“Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes”). He was very passionate and he wanted others to be, too.
King learned when he was very young how people were separated. He had many white friends before he started school, but when school started he was no longer allowed to play with them. The white parents did not want their sons playing with a black boy no matter how polite and kind he was. Another instance of racism Martin experienced was when he went to buy shoes with his father. The clerk told them that the blacks had to go to the back of the store. When Martin Sr. was told this he calmly left the store. King Jr. was confused why they had left and his parents told him that this was not respectful treatment and they didn’t need to stand for it. His mother said, “even though some people make you feel bad or angry, you should not show it. You are as good as anyone else” (“Martin Luther King Jr. Childhood”). King was beginning to understand the differences between the blacks and whites. As he grew older his mother told him about the history of slavery and segregation. With these lessons, Martin really started to get interested in discrimination and the views of other people.
Martin was always opening his mind up to what the world could be. Many say that he is an advocate of a color-blind society. King wanted people to focus more on character and attitude then the color of their skin. King said, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies” (“Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes”). He believed race doesn’t depict the person, evil and hatred do. King knew that the only way our world will be a happy one, was if everyone was treated the same. “I have a dream that my four little 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” (“Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes”). King knew that his dream was distant, but necessary and he had hoped that he could help get it started.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s home life and childhood helped him show others his vision of equality, justice, and selflessness. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on August 28, 1963 by James Earl Ray for standing up in what he believed in. Martin once said, “A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live” (“Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes”). King demonstrated this well by putting himself out there and showing everyone something new. He knew it was dangerous, but he did it anyway because he knew it was the right thing to do. King is still celebrated now for what he did so many years ago. He even has his own day, January 20th, so that everyone can know what he did. Martin Luther King Jr. was an excellent symbol of social justice. He was just what the world needed to get the civil rights movement going. Many people look up to him as their idol and really appreciate what he did for the world.