I remember sitting with my father at the front of the bus when I realized that my father was well into his adult life before he could ride at the front of the bus. Something I took for granted was denied to my ancestors for years because of racially biased laws that governed our country. My father was also the same person that made sure I was educated about one of the Civil Rights advocates who helped put an end to such injustice. One of those advocates was the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was not only a leader, but a visionary. His life reads like a blueprint of civil justice, peace, and spiritual enlightenment. No singer, performer, actor, or even minister has accolades that are not only timeless, but noble as well. By using several concepts Dr. King fought for (freedom, equality, and self sufficiency), I will delve into how Dr. Kings struggles impacted my life, and created a powerful roadmap for success.
Several rap musicians have put into perspective how they went to jail for selling illegal contraband to feed their children. In an ironic twist, Dr. King was arrested several times. But unlike some of the kids today who claim they went to jail for “noble causes", Dr. King was arrested fighting for the rights of others. Dr. King was a strong advocate of the Biblical and philosophical concept that the best way to feel personal and spiritual fulfillment is to help others. Freedom is more than freedom from slavery, or bondage it is freedom to fight for what we believe in even if it means incarceration. Dr. King saw the big picture and was willing to put himself in a bad predicament temporarily in order to achieve long term goals. Dr. King showed that if you fight for a cause, sometimes you have to give up your own freedom so that others can be free.
Perhaps the most vital aspect of the Civil Rights movement is the push for equal rights for people of all races. Throughout my life, I have heard many people cry racial injustice for a number of things. Ironically, the trials that we Generation X folks face pale in comparison to the nullification of civil liberties. Still the playing field is far from equal, and the sooner we can get everyone to acknowledge this, the further we will excel as a people.
As a black man living in the south, I have questioned every thing from spirituality to racism to community policing. But one thing that Dr. King's struggles embodied that was missing from my life: I did not question my own motivation or lack of it, my plan for improvement, or the obstacles that I had previously toppled. When looking at the accomplishments of Dr. King I have brought myself to the belief that equality is a state of mind. What an individual is willing to sacrifice to bring equality into fruition is the true battle. Dr. King helped people to realize that they are just as good as the next person, regardless of race or religion. Everyone can be educated, gainfully employed and have abundance. But even today a large number of minorities (I speak for African American men in particular) do not grasp their potential in this world.
I am no Dr. Martin Luther King. I may not be as well known or win a Nobel Peace Prize. But with the battles he won and the struggles he fought to win those battles, Dr. King's storied existence showed me that I was capable of being like him, or like any other achiever. The realization that I could be anything in life supplied a big boost for a kid growing up in a New York Housing project and going on to a Master's degree. Dr. King may be gone, but every time I reflect on my own freedom, equality, and self sufficiency, I know that his concepts will live on throughout eternity.