Martin Luther King Junior Leadership Case Study is a part of Leadership Stories, a series of biographies of great leaders in history that have impacted the world in a huge way.
Martin Luther King Junior Leadership
Who was He?
Martin Luther King Junior was an American Baptist preacher, an activist and a prominent leader in the American civil rights movement. His greatest work was probably to fight for the civil rights of the African-American people.
Today, he is popularly identified as an icon of human rights. His famous “I have a dream speech” is still frequently referred to today.
A Quick History
King was born in January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His father was a preacher. He would be first known as Michael King Junior, but changed his name to Martin Luther King Junior in honor of the Protestant preacher.
He would study at Morehouse college and graduate with a Bachelor of Arts. He would then go on to study systematic theology after his graduation; and eventually he received a Doctorate for Philosophy in 1955.
His first involvement in the Civil Rights movement was in the incident of Miss Claudette Colvin and Miss Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat for a white person. King was involved in looking into this case, and it led to the Montgomery Bus Riot. King led this riot.
He would go on to start the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group created from combining black churches to organize nonviolent demonstrations for civil rights reform. King would apply Gandhi’s nonviolent protest methods in all his demonstrations. It was extremely successful and public opinion swayed in the favour of the movement. As such, many rights were incorporated into the United States laws.
Above all the other movements, the most famous one would be the Washington March. It was organized by the Big Six, a group of six organizations all with the same purpose of ending racial segregation. The march was a resounding success: a quarter million people from all ethnicities came to attend this event. It was here that King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
He would go on several other campaigns to speak for his cause in churches, in public spaces and more.
In 1968 however, he was assassinated while on a trip to Memphis. While standing outside his motel lobby, he was fatally wounded. He would be pronounced dead in the hospital in the same night.
Awards and Honours
Here are some of the awards and honours that Martin Luther King Junior has won:
• Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977
• Congressional Gold Medal in 2004;
• Martin Luther King, Jr. Day established as a U.S. national holiday.
Martin Luther King Junior Leadership Lessons
1. Passivity is a bad characteristic
Martin Luther King Junior saw that passivity to good was as bad as the perpetuating evil. He was gravely affected more than the silence of his friends than the voice of his enemy.
This is especially true if you want to be a leader of men. You simply cannot be passive. When there’s a conflict going on between two of your team members, you have to be the one to resolve it. When there’s a major challenge facing your organization, you cannot hide. You have to be active in initiating new methods, facing challenges and solving problems.
This is what makes you stand out as an excellent leader.
2. Creative leadership is necessary for change
Martin Luther King Junior sees the importance of disciplined revolution. He saw the power of a group of disciplined and organized individuals who seek to bring positive change in the world. With that revelation, he led the civil rights movement to achieve its purpose.
An excellent leader always challenges the status quo. He does not allow social norms to define his methods or objectives; but he looks to his values and defines the world by them.
3. Love is a greater power than violence
Martin Luther King Junior believed that love and non-violence was a more powerful weapon than violence and hatred in effecting change. With that, he used nonviolence as the main means to attain equal rights for his people.
Whatever cause you’re fighting for, or organization you’re leading, it’s always good to know that ultimately, above all else, it is love that can change the world. Your methods and strategies can get you only so far; and ultimately it is the love for people that will drive you to achieve what you set out to do.
Related Books on Martin Luther King Junior Leadership
Best Quotes from Martin Luther King Junior Leadership
A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.
Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.
Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.
The art of acceptance is the art of making someone who has just done you a small favor wish that he might have done you a greater one.
A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
MORE MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR LEADERSHIP QUOTES
The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
The time is always right to do what is right.
Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.
I have a dream that my four little 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.
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.
At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love. .
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.
MORE MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR LEADERSHIP QUOTES
Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.
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 together at the table of brotherhood.
The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
MORE MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR LEADERSHIP QUOTES
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.
When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values - that all reality hinges on moral foundations and that all reality has spiritual control.
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: "If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?" But... the good Samaritan reversed the question: "If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?"
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.
The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.
Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
The hope of a secure and liveable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
If physical death is the price that I must pay to free my white brothers and sisters from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive.
When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
Video on Martin Luther King Junior Leadership
This is Martin Luther King’s Junior famous ‘I have a Dream’ speech.
Wikipedia: A highly detailed account of Martin Luther King Junior’s life Nobelprize.org: Martin Luther King Junior’s biography from Nobelprize.org
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