Martin Luther King

One of the world’s best known advocates of non-violent social change
strategies, Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), synthesized ideals drawn from many
different cultural traditions. Recent studies of him emphasize the extent to
which his ideals were rooted in African-American religious traditions which were
then shaped by his education. The image of a social activist and leader was the
result of extensive formal education, strong personal values and licit ethics.

This excellence in leadership can be traced to his character which is shaped by
his moral values and personality. We look at MLK and these traits to reveal the
rationalization of his rise to transracial leadership in our society. Through
studying the life and example of Martin Luther King, Jr., we learn that his
moral values of integrity, love, truth, fairness, caring, non-violence,
achievement and peace were what motivated him. King is not great because he is
well known, he is great because he served as the cause of peace and justice for
all humans. King is remembered for his humanity, leadership and his love of his
fellow man regardless of skin color. This presence of strong moral values
developed King’s character which enabled him to become one of the most
influential leaders of our time. Integrity is a central value in a leader’s
character and it is through integrity that King had vision of the truth. The
truth that one day this nation would live up to the creed, "all men are
created equal". No man contributed more to the great progress of blacks during
the 1950’s and 1960’s than Martin Luther King, Jr. He was brought up
believing "one man can make a difference", and this is just what he did.

Integrity has a large effect on what we think, say and do, it is through

King’s thoughts and actions that enabled so many people to have trust and
faith in him. Through King’s integrity he believed that America, the most
powerful and richest nation in the world will lead the way to a revolution of
values. This revolution will change the way society views itself, shifting from
a "thing-orientated" society to a "person-orientated" society. When this
occurs, King believed that racism will be capable of being conquered and this
nation will be "Free at last." King’s unconditional love for all humans
was another value that strongly influenced his character and allowed him to have
such excellent leadership ability. King described his meaning of love in one of
his many speeches, "A Time to Break Silence": " When I speak of love I am
not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force
which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of
life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate
reality." King has been considered an extremist which he was not sure how to
deal with at first. After careful consideration he believed that if he were to
be called an extremist for love, it could only be taken as a compliment and he
came to the realization that the world was in dire need for more extremists.

King did not want to be remembered after his death by his Nobel Peace Prize or
his many other awards, he wanted people to say "...that Martin Luther King,

Jr., tried to love somebody...And I want you to say that I tried to love and
save humanity". Even when his own life and the life of his family was
threatened, King did not react with hatred or violence, he found more strength
and courage and told his fellow men, "I want you to love your enemies. Be good
to them. Love them and let them know you love them." Therefore, King’s love
for the human race led him to focus his ministry and speeches in obedience to

Jesus Christ, who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them. King’s
ability to speak the truth is another value that made him such an influential
leader. This ability is one reason why King was asked to be the leader of so
many important protest marches and sit-ins. His mother was aware of King’s
ability to speak the truth very early in his life, "He drew people to him from
the very first moment by his eloquence, his sincerity, and his moral stature".

King’s followers believed that he would speak nothing but the truth but in

King’s famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail", he could only hope that what
he had written will be seen as the truth: "If I have said anything in