Martin Luther King Jr. is a legend of heroism and a champion of civil rights. His cause was to overcome discrimination and racism and to strongly encourage the government to put in place laws that would guarantee rights to all Americans.
Americans, of all races hail him as one who was able to peacefully make a stand for right and influence the masses.
While many may know about King and his historical work, it is good to learn of the early influences in his life that shaped and molded him in to the great man the nation knows and loves.
One early mentor was Howard Thurman. He was a class mate of King’s father at Morehouse College and had done missionary work. King often looked to Thurman as a mentor while attending Boston University when Thurman was the dean of Marsh Chapel there. It has been said that the nation would not have had King without having Thurman, whose writings and work were very influential.
Mahatma Gandhi was also one who had a profound impact on King and the cause of Civil Rights. In 1959, King took a trip to India to visit the birth place of Gandhi. It was here that his understanding and appreciation for peaceful activism deepened. King became more committed to non-violent methods for change and grew in his unquenchable desire to move the cause of Civil Rights forward in America. He recognized that pin Gandhi that peaceful activists have a power and ability that can truly bring about change.
Bayard Rustin was a peaceful activist who mentored and offered counsel to King in the early years of the Civil Rights Movement. Rustin had studied and researched the writing of Mahatma Gandhi and was also influenced by this man’s ability to create change peacefully. Rustin supported King and urged him to maintain principles of peace throughout the Civil Rights Movement. Rustin is also known for his organization of the March on Washington in 1963.
As we celebrate Martin Luther King and all he did, we also celebrate those who influenced him and ultimately influenced the country.