What I Learned from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a tremendous impact on my life. I learned so much from him during the course of my work with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Dr. King taught us that fear could be a tremendous barrier to political, economic, and social freedom for African Americans in the United States. I didn't fully understand the meaning of this until I went to work with him fulltime in 1965. That’s when I saw how fear was used to intimidate an entire community.

Selma, Alabama was only one example. There were many Selmas where Blacks were denied the right to vote or forced to attend unequal and inferior schools or to work for less than minimum wage while trying to support an entire family. King’s emphasis on struggle, justice, and freedom played a major role in bringing about change in these areas. We have a lot to be grateful for to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s fearlessness and dedication to freedom for all.

Personally, he helped me to understand the importance of overcoming fear. As he once said, until we overcome the love of money and the fear of death, we as a people would never be free.

He was able to overcome both. He was generous to the people around him and would give every penny to the most unfortunate in our society and community. And he was not afraid of death. Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for being such an important leader and role model in my life.

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