Welcome Back, Ladies and Gents! Welcome to our Part 2 of our Black Sheep of the Month! If you haven’t read the first part, click here. As for todays article, I will be talking about one of history’s greatest men, Martin Luther King Jr. In light of the holiday, I wanted to honor the man who made a large impact in American history, but also wanted to give light to the president who gave the movement the beginning it needed. Known as “Honest Abe”, our 16th President did what most political leaders wouldn’t dare to do. He went against the common opinion of the very nation who had granted him power. He defied common norms that did not align with his values of equality and human respect. As a matter of fact, he went down in the legends of history as a martyred President. He firmly believed in his values and principles that it made him a Black Sheep of the times. Unfortunately, we would not see a man of his caliber until nearly 100 years later with MLK Jr. So welcome and enjoy Part 2 of our Black Sheep of the Month.
Let me be clear, in light of the most recent holiday, our main focus will be on this man, MLK Jr. However, as Black Sheep, it is our duty to impart knowledge and celebrate our history appropriately which is why we gave you young Abe as well.
Due to this, I gave you the man who turned the wheels of our past, Abe, and the man who continued his work, not for himself, but for his children and fellow man, Martin Luther King Jr. So, let’s get started. Many of you may know, that Mr. King was a Christian Minister and a key leader and spokesman in the Civil Right Movement. Born in Atlanta in 1929, to Martin Luther King Senior and Alberta King, Mr. King Jr. would witness firsthand the violence and heartbreaking injustices that the Southern States had to offer. Unknown to many, MLK Jr. suffered from depression throughout much of his life, set off at the early age of 12 and generated from the racial humiliation both he and his family had to endure.
Furthermore, unknown to many, MLK Jr. developed and gathered inspiration from his father’s missionary work. MLK Sr. was a proud and fearless man who continuously protested against segregation.
As fate would have it, MLK Jr. was not always the courageous and charismatic person we know. At the age of 12, he attempted suicide which resulted in failure. Furthermore, shunned his faith for inequalities happening throughout the country. He could not believe in a God that would allow such injustices to take place. Fortunately, this crucible and skepticism would later drive him to many profound truths thus propelling him to enter the seminary. With his newly inspired drive, he would later become the youngest assistant manager of a newspaper delivery station and lead him to skipping both the ninth and twelfth grades. By 15, he entered the collegiate realm and played college football.
Talk about latent talent, he was intelligent, tenacious, athletic, and hardworking, but most importantly he was driven by an inner urge to serve humanity. This would lead him towards the ministry at the young age of 18.
By 19, he would be honored as a “Son of Calvary” for his excellent work at the Calvary Baptist Church. With no loss to momentum, he was married by 24, became a father to his first child, Yolanda King, and earned his PhD in systematic theology. With several peaceful protests generated from the incidents from Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks, MLK Jr. was transformed into a national figure and best known spokesman of the civil rights movement thus leading to his Leadership of Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Regrettably, this would lead to several attempts on his life, one that would end in his demise. Fortunately, he was steadfast when he was stabbed and repeatedly foiled by FBI tapping’s and unfair connections to communism.
King organized and led marches for Blacks’ rights to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and many other civil rights by 1965. Luckily, his peaceful protests and principles would receive heavy criticism by many other leaders in the African American communities such as Malcolm X, Omali Yeshitela, and Stokely Carmichael.
Sadly, his efforts did not seem to be working and the movement began to deteriorate. Due to the many African American leaders, division within the communities began to occur. To add further injury to insult, his peaceful protests took a violent turn in Birmingham when local authorities used attack dogs and water jets on not only adults, but children as well. Any other person, would have called it quits, packed their bags, and returned home, but MLK Jr. did not.
Clearly, his tenacity and perseverance are two of the many qualities he derives as a Black Sheep. From then on, the momentum, began to overturn in his favor. From 1963 onward, most notably 1964, MLK Jr. traveled and partnered with outside organizations to confront the social injustices occurring throughout many cities leading up to his march on Washington D.C. This March was most notable for his “I Have A Dream” speech. By 1964, he received a Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership and steadfast commitment to racial justice through nonviolent practice.
As history tells us, progress sometimes asks for the greatest sacrifice.
On one fateful day, April 4th, 1968, MLK Jr. was fatally shot and rushed to the hospital for emergency chest surgery. King died at the hospital. Days later, history was made, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. However, his legacy did not end there. He would inspire many mass movements both foreign and domestic, most notably civil rights movements in Africa. He was immortalized in 1971, when his national holiday was established to honor his brave and most noble sacrifice.
From then on, he was recalled as a martyr by the Episcopal Church, much like our President Abraham Lincoln.
It is clear, both these men were Black Sheep of their times. Unwilling to yield their beliefs, principles, and virtues to a lesser code of man. These men were pioneers of social change and brought about a tremor of transformation in their environment. Unlike the people around them, they refused to follow the rules societal nature had imposed on them. They undertook the heavy burden thrust upon them and decided to tackle the issues at hand head on. These men were Black Sheep. Unyielding and persistent, they confronted the problems of their world knowing full well it could cost them their lives. As they say, “It is better to die an original, then to die an imitation!”
Hopefully, by now, you too can see what made these men special, what made them Black Sheep! And why we honor them in our Black Sheep of the Month. If you wish to learn more about his history, please click here. I hope you enjoyed our first two part series for our Black Sheep of the Month. I know I enjoyed learning more about these two gentlemen. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let us know. As always, “Stay Original my friends” and Enjoy the Rest of the Week! Haha!