Throughout history there have been exceptional men who’ve inspired us by the way they lead their lives and accomplish success. This is VK Nagrani’s Badass Guys Series.
There is little to no chance you live in America and made it out of elementary school without knowing about who Martin Luther King, Jr. is and what he was all about. But just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last forty years, he’s the man famous for making the “I Have a Dream” speech and leading the March on Washington and the overall face of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.
Here’s why VK Nagrani thinks Martin Luther King, Jr. is badass.
1. Child of Abuse
Martin Luther King Jr. was beaten by his father who was determined to “make something out of him even if he had to beat him to death.” It’s pretty shocking that Martin Luther King, Jr. would eventually become a doctor, after having lived in a house with a parent who could be that violent. Although, it’s likely what prepared him and honed his patience and helped him develop a deep admiration for Mahatma Gandhi.
2. Action through Non-Violence
When Rosa Parks refused to sit in the segregated portion of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama, the driver alerted the police and had the woman arrested. City officials didn’t realize that she was a card-carrying member of the NAACP and that a whole mess of civil disobedience was coming their way. Martin Luther King staged a boycott of the Montgomery bus system and nearly 20,000 people participated in not riding their usual bus. For an entire year, buses rode around the city of Montgomery empty or practically empty. It ended in victory for the protesters and in the case of Browder vs Gayle, the Supreme Court of the U.S. found that Alabama’s regulation on race restriction for the bus system was unconstitutional.
He also led the March on Washington and made the famous “I Have a Dream” speech that is arguably the most famous keynote talk in the history of human existence.
3. Consistently Faced the Threat of Death
Being a scholarly black man in the 1960s was practically considered a crime against society. Doctor King, in his peaceful quest for justice, never bowed to the hate mail and death threats that pored in through the post. At the beginning, when the threats first started coming in, he considered carrying a gun, but then remarked, “How could I have claimed to be the leader of a non-violence movement then?”
His unyielding belief in the power of peaceful activism is what makes him one of the most memorable figures in all of American history. “No matter how low somebody sinks into racial bigotry, he can be redeemed,” he insisted to his supporters.
The American South was an explosive place to be for people of color, and the entire movement was constantly threatened with violence, but this did not deter Martin Luther King, Jr. “The consequences for my personal life are not particularly important,” Dr. King stated in an interview, stressing the importance of the Greater Good, like a total badass.
Keep checking the VK Nagrani blog for more editions of our Badass Guys Series.