The man who made his dream a reality: Martin Luther King Jnr

18/01/20204 minute read
The man who made his dream a reality: Martin Luther King Jnr

Martin Luther King Jr

No matter where you are from in the world, there is a good chance that you would be familiar with the four words “I Have A Dream…” spoken by Martin Luther King Jnr after he led the 1963 March on Washington to deliver his famous speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

On the third Monday of January, the United States of America stops to reflect on one of the most prominent figures in the civil rights movement - a national holiday which is also one of two nationally designated service days.

Martin Luther King Jnr Day, is a time to remember the inequalities and injustices that were led and fought to ensure that life was made more fair for the people he represented. The USA uses this day to reflect on his fight for freedom, equality and dignity and his call for all people to live in harmony regardless of race or the colour of their skin.

“ He reminded us that no man was ever granted a right that he didn’t fight for. And that when we come together—we as a country, as a people, as human beings—we can overcome anything and make this world a better place.”

In a post WWII era of change and modernisation but an increasingly violent race divide, King was seen as a vital figure; his presence as a leader and the message he brought to light through his statements stirring something within a generation that hadn’t been done before - sparking their conscience. When considering the lessons you could take from Martin Luther King Jnr, you don’t have to go too far to see that he had impact on men and women both young and old; he demonstrated charismatic leadership, and the impact that brought speaks for itself. His actions demanded a conscious social shift and the marches and movements he engaged in brought significant change through his courage as a leader (he was arrested 30 times) and the devotion he had for the cause.

Martin Luther King Jnr played an integral role and led 13 years of civil rights activities. He was also the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize at just 35 years old. His values and personal story were reflected in his actions based on his concept of “sombodiness”. To him and the people he led, this was the contextual basis of human worth which gave underrepresented minorities a new hope and an overdue sense of dignity.

As students aiming to study at top universities of the world, leadership lessons such as these are invaluable when you are considering how you interact with the world. You may ask yourself as to how you can stir a conscience through your own learnings, and even demonstrate these through extracurricular activities of your own to inspire others about a passion project.

Martin Luther King Jnr spoke publicly more than 2,500 times, however while studying he was originally given a C for his public speaking class! His father had always believed that he was a great public speaker and the given grade didn’t deter him as he turned this around to be a straight A student in his final years at Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston University. So for those of you reading who are worried that you “aren’t good enough” in one area - Martin Luther King Jnr is definitely someone you should think of if you ever second guess what you are capable of!

Many people have questioned what King would say to the people of the world today? In response to this many have referred to the address he gave to Barrat Junior High School in Philadelphia on October 26, 1967. Within the address he spoke to the young people in the room in asking what their “life’s blueprint” was, in making a difference in the world they lived in and how others would experience this as a replica of what had been done before. Martin Luther King Jnr’s key takeaway was to encourage people to be the best they could be; regardless of their status in life. As someone who made their mark on the world they lived in, many elements of the headway he made for all Americans is intertwined with his wisdom, his commitment, and most importantly his actions, which were driven by his dream for a new way of life and which many aspects can be seen today in American life.

How cities in the USA celebrate Martin Luther King Jnr Day

Los Angeles

Nation’s largest and longest-running parade takes place to celebrate what would be Martin Luther King Jnr’s 91st birthday.

New York City

Brooklyn Academy of Music

Held since 1990 - they hold the biggest public tribute to Martin Luther King Jnr

San Antonio

Martin Luther King Jnr March

This march is in it’s 33rd year and attracts over 100,000 people.

San Diego

Zeta Sigma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

This fraternity is the oldest African American fraternity which Martin Luther King Jnr belonged to. Celebrations take place on 19 January and feature a march which includes high school bands, floats and much more


Kevin Durant MLK Classic

In the spirit of the legacy Martin Luther King Jnr created, this basketball tournament provides student athletes with community engagement and education.