Kevin Wayne Johnson
“I have an inner urge calling me to serve humanity” – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remarks prior to this ordination as a minister at the age of 19.
Inspire others to excel through your character, work ethic, and integrity.
In the Book of Genesis, chapter one, God reveals unto Adam that he is blessed and to be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue it. God’s specific instructions are to be productive, raise the level of productivity of those around us, leave a deposit in the earth for the next generation, and to control our environment. What an awesome responsibility that God entrusts us with! It takes inspiration to be a productive person and to raise the level of productivity of others because our actions inspire them to do so.
Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the world’s greatest inspirations. He truly inspired all Americans to change an entire culture, custom, practice, and mindset – discrimination based upon skin color. Dr. King is the only American-born citizen who has a birthday as a holiday in his name. He defined greatness through the service that he tirelessly rendered. From 1955 to 1968, he led peaceful demonstrations against evil throughout the United States, particularly in the south. He inspired millions to follow his peaceful demonstrations. This was partly because of his stance on not being afraid to die for a cause that is just, right, fair, equitable, and scriptural. Tapped as one of the most important speeches in the 20th century, Dr. King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ is replayed every year as America celebrates the life and legacy of this great servant of the Lord on January 15th.
Having skipped two grades in high school, Dr. King began college at the tender age of fifteen. He was such an inspirational leader that he led a 381-day bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama in response to Rosa Parks’ refusal to needlessly abandon her seat. During the 1950’s, the state law stipulated that she had to surrender her seat to a white person, even if others seats are available. This law made no sense but the courage to challenge this was lacking. God is no respecter of persons (James 2:9), and finally, under leadership, the state of Alabama’s decision to arbitrarily defy God’s Word was ignored. Dr. King declared that “It is better is walk in humility than to ride in humiliation.” It was a spark that caught thousands on fire to take an active role in bankrupting a corrupt state government system. However, his compassion was equally comforting when he said that through nonviolent and peaceful protests, “We can turn any man into a friend.”
Dr. King was so focused on his calling to be an inspirational leader that he only granted one television interview. This was granted to Arnold McCalah. Yet, he was arrested thirty times for taking a stand for justice, righteousness, equity, and fair treatment for all people. On the eve of his assassination, April 3, 1968, Dr. King delivered his infamous ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ speech. It was a night in which he was sick and had sent Dr. Ralph Abernathy to speak in his absence. Instead, he arrived and delivered a powerful and inspirational address that is replayed every year for us to remember. He described his mountaintop experience as if he knew that April 4, 1968 would be his last day as an earthen vessel for the Lord. Most notably, at Dr. King’s home going service, one of his sermons was played and he specifically requested that no one boast about his life. Instead, he requested that we remember him in the following way:
– He tried to give his life serving others.
– He tried to love somebody.
– Remember him a drum major for justice.
– Don’t mention his awards or his Nobel Peace Prize.
Thirty-five years after his assassination, He remains a model for all pastors. His impact on the church, particularly the African-American church, and the community it serves remains the standard against which all preachers are measured. The chronology of Dr. King’s life is long and impressive, but several key accomplishments that changed America during his lifetime are worth noting:
1947 Licensed to preach and begins assisting his father, who is Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
1951 Graduates from Crozer with Bachelor of Divinity Degree. He is the class valedictorian and winner of the Pearl Plafker Award for most outstanding student. He begins doctoral studies in theology at Boston University.
June 4 U.S. District court rules racial segregation on Alabama’s city bus lines is unconstitutional.
September 9 Congress passes the 1957 Civil Rights Act, first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.
February Dr. and Mrs. King travel to India as guests of Prime Minister Nehru to study Gandhi’s techniques of nonviolence.
May 6 The 1960 Civil Rights Act is signed.
December U.S. Supreme Court declares discrimination in bus terminal restaurants operated for the service of interstate passengers is a violation of the Interstate Commerce Act.
November Interstate Commerce Commission bans segregation on buses, trains, and supportive facilities.
1964January 3 Time magazine names Dr. King Man of the Year.1964
July 2 Witnesses the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon Johnson – the most far- reaching civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.
December 10 Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway – the youngest person to win the prize.
August 6 President Johnson signs the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
November 7 Carl Stokes elected mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, the first black elected mayor of a major U.S. city.
April 7 The President declares a national day of mourning for King.
1986 First National King Holiday celebrated.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” (footnote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
“Let freedom ring…” are the concluding words from perhaps the most memorable speech in the history of the United States of America: “Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York…the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania…the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado…the curvaceous slopes of California…But not only that…from Stone Mountain of Georgia…from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee…from every hill and molehill of Mississippi…from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
I Have A Dream, Martin Luther King, Jr., pages 29-31, 1993,Anniversary Edition. “New issues have emerged as a result of rapid technological development, such as the fight to preserve the environment, and a woman’s right to reproductive choice. These are being addressed all over the U.S. by non-violent protest, inspired by Dr. King’s message. It is my conviction that as new technologies emerge, they often bring tradition into conflict with new values. The tools which Dr. King has given us will enable us to confront each new issue as it arises. The struggles may change, but the tools remain constant, and for that we are indebted.” Source: “A Remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Benedict J. Fernandez – www.kodak.com, January 15, 2001