The essay denotes a person considered to possess the Prometheus-like quality of being the fire-giver, who at his own expense and risking even his life, works relentlessly towards benefiting his fellow man. Martin Luther King Jr. is a persona of great relevance to the struggle of the Civil Rights Movement against racial segregation and discrimination. Through peaceful protests and nonviolent actions, he endeavored to attain equal rights for all.
The African-American Civil Rights Movement recognizes, among other relevant personas of the righteous, nonviolent struggle for the outlawing of racial discrimination against African-Americans, for their full and fair employment, for their right to vote and for adequate integrated education, Martin Luther King Jr. as a visionary of peace amidst the tumultuous times of the 1950s, during which he became “the most significant representative of the link between protest and religion” (Cashman, 1991, p. 121).
King’s charmingly eloquent persona and an aching desire for equality have made him an optimistic crusader whose torch of rectitude lit many hearts in the 1950s America. In the times of gross segregation, he was persistent in his nonviolent rebellion against the establishment, firmly believing in the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, that the only way to successfully resist governmental tyranny is through mass civil disobedience. His enthusiastically relentless efforts led to the famous March on Washington in 1963, during which he delivered his acclaimed speech, entitled “I Have a Dream.” This 17-minute public speech “demonstrates the enduring significance of his words as the clearest societal vision ever portrayed of what America can and should be” (Echols, 2004, p. 1). King’s oratory power and passion for his cause have made it into a monumental speech which changed the lives of the audience forever.
Despite his superhuman efforts for the achievement of a color blind Utopia, he deeply felt the “overwhelming nature of problems [he] was trying to address” and is quoted saying that “people expect [him] to have answers yet [he doesn’t] have any answers” (Cashman, 1991, p. 211). In the end, humanly frail and mortal, yet with the soul of a fire-giver, King has since become a world-renowned national icon of peaceful rebellion against racial segregation and discrimination. His words have brought pride and love of fellow man into the lives of millions, not offering solutions to everyone’s troubles, but a means of acquiring a better tomorrow.
Cashman, S. D. (1991). African-Americans and the Quest for Civil Rights, 1900-1990. New York: New York University.
Echols, J. (2004). I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Future of Multicultural America. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress.
Fleming, A. (2008). Martin Luther King Jr: A Dream of Hope. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.