King advocated civil rights and won the Kennedy Peace Prize and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. In the southern states, he spoke out against the legal segregation of blacks and whites in public places.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four 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.¹
Above all, King was a human being. He wasn’t Jesus Christ or The Blessed Virgin – that is, born without original sin – and aspects of his life seem to illustrate that fact.
Extramarital affairs for what he apparently called ‘anxiety reduction‘ were lept on by the FBI, which sent this shocking and frightful letter:
In the 21st century, King continues to inspire many regardless of their skin color or class position.
If you happen to like the TV show Star Trek you can thank King for keeping Nichelle Nichols in the program, who wanted to quit after the first season.
When King told her that she represented the future because she was cast as a person and not an object, she decided to stay with it.
If we could all make balanced and compassionate assessments – instead of hasty judgments – on the basis of an individual’s character and situation and not their appearance, religion, gender or perceived status, we would probably all be much healthier and happier.
We’re not there yet as a species but creative and courageous individuals like MLK have helped to pave the way.
¹ Martin Luther King, Jr: The Peaceful Warrior, New York: Pocket Books, 1968.
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