Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
Nedghie  Adrien

Family Influence on Martin Luther King’s Role as a Leader

Organic Imagery in the Works of Martin Luther King,Jr.

Martin Luther, Jr.  King

In his writings, Martin Luther King, Jr. conveys his hope for human potential. Using analogies to nature, King shows that people can grow despite their flaws. Why We Can’t Wait encourages the black community to rise against the system of segregation and fight for equality. MLK uses references to the wholeness and unity of nature in order to inspire the common black man to demand his rights and better living conditions in the United States. In Strength to Love, a collection of King’s sermons, he analyzes the strength required to love rather than hate and the challenges of using nonviolence as a weapon for social change. The organic imagery incorporated in his sermons represents the balance and unity that exists in nature and supports the idea that segregation is unnatural and damaging to humanity. Natural elements work together to develop their environment. King uses the collaborative aspect of nature as a metaphor to promote the growth of the people and the nation.

In his autobiography, King uses himself as an example of the ability of humans to achieve greatness and explores the different influences that helped him realize his potential. His father and mother played a crucial role in his upbringing and helped him develop a sense of his own identity and worth. As an adult, his wife supported him during his struggle within the Civil Rights Movement and helped him develop his aptitude as a human being and as a leader. Despite the strain that the Movement caused on their marriage, Mrs. King was a pillar of strength for her husband and her children. In addition, King’s friendships, such as the one he shared with Ralph Abernathy, the vice-president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, allowed him to concentrate on his work as a leader and eased the burden of guiding thousands of people in a fight for freedom against the white segregationists. King’s family and the support of his friends inspired and encouraged his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and allowed him to become a peaceful leader, preaching nonviolence and non-retaliation as a vehicle for social change.

Major Works Consulted :

Dyson, Michael Eric. I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King Jr. New York: Free Press, 2000.
Frady, Marshall. Martin Luther King Jr. New York: Penguin, 2002.
King, Martin Luther Jr. The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr. New York: Warner, 1998.
---. Why, We Can’t Wait. New York: Signet, 2000.
Photo Credit: King, Martin Luther Jr. The Trumpet of Conscience. New York: Harper & Row, 1963.