Martin Luther King, Jr.Credit:

As you sit back and take in the phenomenal accomplishments of black history, it's natural to be impressed by some of the great figures of black history including Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver and a lot more.  But one name remains head and shoulders above the rest and that's the name Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King’s legacy of change and his call for the end of racial discrimination and segregation in American society is without question the voice that has struck America as no other has done. While many have demonstrated tremendous leadership, Dr. King clearly showed a vision for the future of America in which black and white worked, lived, played and worshipped together as a united society.

The reverence and honor all American’s have for Martin Luther King, Jr. is apparent in how honored his name has been since his tragic death at the assassins hand in 1968.  Through out this nation, virtually every U.S. city has named a major route after the great civil rights leader.  He solely has a U.S. holiday named after him, an honor typically reserved for presidents.  He has been honored on the U.S. stamp and no school kid gets through his or her elementary education without recognizing the key phrases from Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” speech.

Dr. King’s vocation in civil rights is inseparable from the early struggles of the civil rights campaign from the late fifties going forward.  Our images of him walking along side with his people unifying them behind his leadership and facing enormous hatred and racial bigotry and take a stand in America to say without compromise that racism wouldn't endure in this country any longer. 

Those images of Dr. King working and marching with others who partook in his bravery to step out and make a change for the better are unerasable on the American consciousness.  For Dr. King wasn't a leader who sent out his messages from the safety and comfort of a far-off office.  No, he was at that place, in the midst of his people, marching on Washington arm in arm with the everyday men and women of this country who confederated to fight the evils of racism.  It took tremendous courage for Dr. King to go for the streets with his people like he did and it was a risk that finally cost him his life.  But his courage enlivened thousands to be courageous too and be one people, one brotherhood who would no longer permit racism to be the rule of law in America.

Dr. King’s famed speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on a hot August 28, 1963 has become so central to our American heritage that it is cited with reverence by scholars, students and all people looking for their own inspiration from this great man.  This speech ranks with the inaugural speech of Kennedy and the Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as words that have invigorated this nation as none other have been able to do.  It's unimaginable not to get goose bumps reading these key phrases from that historical speech.

*          I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"

*          "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."

*          "Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

When reading Dr. King’s prophetical words to us all, his ideas become our ideas and we all get challenged to make his dream come to life.  And that's what is truly the definition of a great leader.

Martin Luther King "I have a dream"