The 10 Things That Didn't Stop Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From Reaching Success


In a space regularly reserved for young entrepreneurs, athletes and motivational speakers, it may be unusual to see the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the bravest men our country has seen.

On this day, however, we celebrate the life of man who's made an impact for the ages. It's important to remember that even in death, MLK's story is very much one of success.

To say that Dr. King's work was a catalyst for social change would be a massive understatement. There really are not enough words to describe his legacy and do it justice, which is probably why we retrace the accomplishments of MLK so often.

When words fail to describe how great of a figure he is, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s success takes the burden off of our lips and speaks for itself.

The same may be said for his challenges, as well. If recounting his victories remind us of how monumental his endeavors were, reviewing the hurdles MLK had to jump over might do the same:

1. Constant Patronizing From Portions Of White America

As African Americans made slow, incremental progress in the fight to gain equal Civil Rights under the leadership of Dr. King, the great activist endured the pressures of portions of White America that believed they weren't racist, but that King should tone it down.

These were the mentalities Dr. King had to argue against and break down in order to climb the ladder of success. The reverend was straightforward in assessing just how much of a danger the White oppressors' mindset was against Blacks' cause:

2. The Prospect Of Death

Throughout his days fighting the good fight, Dr. King was subjected to more threats than he could count, literally. It'd take quite the imagination to picture a day that his mailbox was empty.

The amount of times that nameless and, by virtue of their anonymity, cowardly individuals tried to intimidate and deter Dr. King from carrying out his mission of facilitating racial equality was so significant that it's hard to even think of how MLK could carry on without being shaken to the core.

It's so mind-boggling that he had to explain:

3. Mistakes

Like every man, Martin Luther King, Jr. was fallible and to man, he was honest about his mistakes. While it might be surprising to hear, one of his biggest mistakes came in his strategy for making the Civil Rights Movement successful. Speaking of one of his demonstrations in Albany, Georgia, he said:

4. The Law

It's no secret that MLK fought to gain equality by the law and to have unjust laws revoked. That much is a given. Even worse than the pieces of legislation that were already in place, however, were the measures to which municipalities would go to derail King's efforts on the fly. The reverend regarded these as "immoral, man-made laws."

5. Opposition From His Own Faith

One might think that spearheading the fight for equal human rights would be an easy ask of those who claim the religion of a just God, but Dr. King cites clergymen as the opposition that gave him the greatest disappointment.

MLK once thought they would be one of his greatest sources of support, yet he found that some, mostly white, ministers and priests hid behind the (very convenient) notion that the church should not involve itself in social issues. Furthermore, it was the hypocrisy in this stance that was most insulting:

6. His Own Community

In order to motivate the black community and get everyone to channel their frustrations into a disciplined, non-violent movement, the African Americans had to first be organized. This, King says, was a challenge in itself, as the reverend had to fight for his own people's backing before he went to (peaceful) war with the nation.

7. The Lack Of Value For Black Life

The worst aspect of racists' efforts to deter African Americans from, essentially, fighting for their freedom was the fact that their threats actually came to fruition with little to no consequence. Intimidation wasn't just words with empty meaning; threats were warnings given out with a mission to kill.

This simply proposed another hurdle for King to jump, the task of convincing government to, as King says:

8. Labels

While there were those who promote certain programs are given the label of "radicals," a term which inherently has negative connotation, there were those who gave labels to Dr. King and all those who followed.

King was called, amongst numerous things, an instigator, a thief who was in the "business" of Civil Rights for personal gain and an extremist.

But, as was his nature, Dr. King took the insulting way in which people tried to turn attention away from Civil Rights, in order to shine a negative light on the movement, and used it as an opportunity to put the focus back on love.

9. A Feeling Of Hopelessness

Even Dr. King, who invoked hope as fuel for the Civil Rights Movement, at a point felt like the road he was traveling was never-ending.

He would overcome this feeling, of course, but it's important to remember, in thinking back to how great of a mountain African Americans were aiming to conquer, that even the most unshakable of leaders had his resolve brought to its knees, if even for a second:

10. Actual Death

Dr. King was prophetic when it came to his eventual assassination, as he delivered one of his more famous speeches, "I've Been To The Mountaintop."

Even in death, however, Martin Luther King's impact was felt. The power of the Civil Rights Movement, which he headed with conviction, drove social change years after he'd been laid to rest. Although Dr. King did not live to see the beauty of the free world we inhabit, sharing equal Civil Rights among all races, we show him our undying gratitude on this day and every day of our lives.

Thank you, Dr. King, for leading the way.

(Note: Numbers one through nine use quotes from a 1965 interview, which was conducted by Alex Haley for Playboy, the longest interview he'd ever given.)

Photo courtesy K Love