The Legacy of MLK


Image by LuAnn Hunt via Pixabay

By Jenna Elsamman, Co-Editor

Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior: a name fitting for the man who became one of the most prominent leaders in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. You’ve probably heard about the most iconic attributes and actions that made Dr. King such a well-remembered figure in history. But why is he so remembered? And why do we celebrate him?

King was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta Georgia. Growing up, King and all people of color at the time, had to live with injustices in southern society as a result of Jim Crow laws. These state and local laws enforced racial segregation throughout the Southern United States and made life much more difficult for people of color to live their lives peacefully alongside white people. 

King, however, who was motivated by his religion and Mahatma Gandhi’s peaceful teachings, chose to use his powerful voice, strong character, and skillful rhetoric to incite change for these unjust laws. He used the power of his words as well as nonviolent demonstrations like sit-ins and boycotts in an effort to bring about equality for all people. He most notably helped organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the 1950s to protest segregated seating on public buses in Alabama. He also became one of the driving forces behind the 1963 March on Washington to demand an end to segregation, fair pay, and economic justice along with many other long overdue civil rights protections. That was also where he gave what is known as one of the greatest speeches of all time, where he called for an end to racism in the United States in his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Many people didn’t appreciate the messages and change he was spreading. A bomb was once tossed outside his living room and many threats to his life were common. King was also arrested and sent to jail twenty-nine times for civil disobedience, but also for trumped-up charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone. 

Despite all this, he continued to persevere and speak of change and equality in society. The impact of Martin Luther King Jr. on American history is immense. He put forth a lot of effort to make sure that everyone had equal chances and could live their life free from violence and prejudice, regardless of race, religion, or nationality. King is still recognized as one of the greatest human rights advocates in history. That is why every year, we celebrate MLK day. That is also why this MLK day, make sure to take a moment and be grateful for King and his legacy, and please always remember never to judge someone by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.