Martin Luther King Jr. was a truly dynamic person in his short but eventful and important lifetime. He was responsible of the eventual equality of all races, and set a good example in his protests, but he was not always that way. Martin Luther King Jr. was influenced by his father, his religion, and a person that lived in India halfway across the world. These people shaped Martin’s attitude, perspective, actions, and protests. One thing was for sure, King was not born understanding all that he did once he had shaped the country of America for the better.
His influences made him careful, kind, respectful, intelligent, and well athered. Even as a highly famous and respected person, King also had to change. Martin Luther king was born with a name of Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His father, Michael King Sr. , took young Michael to Germany at a young age to change his name to Martin Luther King Jr. in honor of a reformer living in that country. After King returned, he lived a middle class life, where his dad was involved with the local church.
King lived in a predominantly black neighborhood, and was not aware of the reason behind segregation until later in his life. King was intelligent from the beginning of his life, skipping th and 12th grade in his school. As a child, King felt attached to religion; he also had an interest in his religion, Christianity. Through King’s beginning life, his first influence that made him begin of the path to a racial equality protector was his father. Martin Luther King Sr. orked at a local church, and was part of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), a program that King Jr. would later join. King Sr. experienced the damaging of a colored person when he was young, and also respected pastors who were willing to speak out about segregation. King Sr. also rode on “white only” levators. Growing up, King Jr. ‘s parents were together; he described the his childhood as “a very congenial life situation,” and King Sr. ‘s experiences greatly influenced the learnings of King Junior.
As a child, King had no opinion or understanding of the separation of people in his hometown. King Jr. would have conversations at the hour of dinner involving racial issues and government with his father, who then taught King Jr. most of his experiences involving segregation. This event changed King from a innocent and socially uneducated boy and threw him into his first thoughts about the separation of people. These thoughts ere later the basis of his protests around the world. These conversations were the ideas that began King’s opinion about the separated world around him.
When King Jr. was young, he also experienced another event involving his father. King Sr. was pulled over by a policeman with King Jr. in the backseat of his father’s vehicle. The policeman was fair skinned and addressed King Sr. as a “boy. ” King Sr. responded by stressing that he will not listen to the officer until King Sr. was addressed as a man. This event made the policeman worried and stressed, and the officer quickly left the scene. This event played out with King Jr. atching. This changed King Jr. for he realized one way of dealing with discrimination. Later in his short life, King Jr. responded to criticism without giving up and by standing tall, continuing with his non-violent actions. King Sr. ‘s role in the local church also made King Jr. very associated with the Christian religion, and later in life King Jr. used religion in many of his powerful statements.
This similarity of reactions to criticism meant from father to son meant that King Jr. had been greatly impacted by his father during his young years. Martin Luther King Jr. ever formally finished high school, but was accepted nto Morehouse College in 1944 to pursue a degree in Sociology; he became influenced by his religion during college and beyond. After Morehouse he moved on to Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he studied many philosophers and admired Walter Rauschenbusch, for he taught King that religion was applicable to the body and actions. In his concluding year at Crozer Theological Seminary, King studied Reinhold Niebuhr, who was a protestant who helped King understand why a person commits actions through his book, The Nature and Destiny of Man.
King felt that it was his urge and need to serve all humans. King always had a religious connection because his father was a pastor, but during his years in schooling his beliefs became more intense. Martin Luther King Jr. would often take verses from the bible and gospels in his speech and protests later in his life. He would also aim his boycotts with the reasoning from biblical speech. King used religious morals and lessons to replicate the lessons of them wherever he went. Religion and religious figures made Martin Luther King Jr. dvance in his belief in acting as a pacifist and a supporter of non-aggression to help a minority of people in a large area. Religion also gave King Jr. a method in which to fight segregation which would align with the bible and still be effective. Religion sent him on this road to his eventual peaceful protests and actions, and taught him about many lessons such as not to dwell upon material items and to forgive others, but it was a religious lecture about a man in India in 1948 that made King Jr. a true believer and supporter of non-violent protests and rebellion.
In 1948, King heard a speech about Mahatma Gandhi by Dr. Mordecai Johnson. After hearing this speech, King was enthusiastic and excited about his methods of peaceful protest. King Jr. read many of Gandhi’s books and fell upon the concept of satyagraha, which was the idea of fighting without violence to help a minority of people. Reading and looking at satyagraha made Martin Luther King Jr. more sure of the peaceful protest method he had thought of for some time in his life. The teachings of Gandhi made King realize in 1948 that satyagraha was a way to put the objectives of Christianity into action to help a race.
Later in 1949, King Jr. visited India where he applied his knowledge of Gandhi’s teachings to make sure it could apply to America and the race struggle involved there; King became sure hat satyagraha could be used effectively to fight segregation. After coming back to America soon after his realization, Gandhi’s teachings also affected King’s lifestyle. King tested Gandhi’s idea by living it for himself, only to come upon a perspective that satyagraha as well as other forms of peaceful protest was the most effective involving segregation.
Gandhi’s idea of peaceful protest and calm response shaped King Jr. into a man with methods of dealing with the troubles of America. Gandhi taught King the power of nonviolence, and King learned and grew to believe also that equality can only be reached through hardship hen King tested satyagraha for himself. Eventually, the teachings and experiences involving Gandhi made King a changed person with confirmed views involving the world around King.
In overview, Martin Luther King Jr. hanged drastically from a socially uneducated, clueless child to an intelligent, peaceful, humble, faithful, and inspirational figure for people around the world. King changed from his father in his early years, his faith in his schooling years, and from Gandhi in his final moments. King went on to join the NAACP, tour the world in search of civil justice, and make speeches to influence the government and the people of America. King’s character changed the entire structure of racial justice for generations and generations.
Sadly, on April 4th, 1968 while in Memphis, Tennessee for an economic injustice protest, King Jr. was shot by James Earl Ray at 6:01 pm. This ended his life and an amazing legacy of a man who represented many as he brought to life ideas to influence America as a whole. His death allowed several laws to be passed giving people of color more rights in various area such as in housing. As King Jr. changed with events in his life becoming a leader and a motivated and inspiring person, an entire civilization mended it’s wounds and healed as a whole.