Martin Luther King Was a Misfit - by Imani the Misfit
Hypothesis: Martin Luther King may have been successful in changing the world because he was a misfit.
What is a misfit?
Misfit : An individual who is significantly different than the rest of their peers, either by the way they act, think, behave, or dress; Usually rejected or hated for their difference.
Why was MLK a misfit?
* Son of a preacher
* Child prodigy , College graduate – Martin Luther King graduated from high school and started Morehouse College at the age of 15. MLK also received a Doctorate of Philosophy in Systematic Theology from Boston University at the age of 26.
* Non Violent Activist
Childhood to Adulthood
It is no secret that throughout the history of the American school system, many intelligent kids are routinely outkasted and picked on by their peers for being smart. Being that MLK was a child prodigy student in a time when most black kids weren't given the benefit of a good education, MLK may have grown up feeling unusual. Often when someone in a certain social group is perceived smarter than the others, they are bullied and alienated. In this sense, his intelligence alone was enough to qualify him as a misfit. Furthermore, being that he was a son of a preacher who started college at the age of 15, he was definitely put in a category where he was not like the other kids. Although we don’t know much about his social life as a child, I believe it can be safely assumed that he sometimes found himself to be the object of envy, alienation and ridicule, thereby making him a misfit, even in his childhood.
As an adult, MLK became known as the man who advocated “turning the other cheek” and praying for your enemies in a time when many black people were angry and violently frustrated with the police and the American government. They wanted vengeance, and his non violent approach was not fulfilling enough for them, he was seen as weak. This brought him a lot of political enemies, some that even wanted to do him physical harm. In his prime, MLK was getting death threats on a regular basis, and in the summer of 1964 he was even stoned by Black Muslims in Harlem.
MLK continued to deliberately put himself in situations where he would be the misfit. One of his most common demonstrations were the infamous sit-ins , which involved a group of black people entering a restaurant that was for “whites only” and sitting in the restaurant until they were arrested. Many times the participants were beaten and thrown in jail. This style of demonstration brought him a lot of opposition from his fellow civil rights leaders. People thought that MLK was doing more harm than good by putting himself and his people in danger, and not fighting back. In a time when a lot of leaders and activists from the black community were ready to retaliate against the police and America, MLK advocated non violent marches and protests as a way to solve their problem. This made him a misfit.
How did MLK change the world?
* MLK was the official spokesman for the boycott that caused the Supreme Court to rule that bus segregation was illegal. In November 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission banned segregation in interstate travel due to work of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Freedom Riders. This made it possible for blacks to ride on buses with whites in a time when bus lines like Greyhound were segregated.
* On April 13, MLK launched the Birmingham campaign. Consequently, on May 10, the stores, restaurants, and schools of Birmingham, Alabama were desegregated, and the hiring of blacks was implemented.
* The March on Washington held August 28 is the largest civil rights demonstration in history with nearly 250,000 people in attendance
* King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10. Dr. King was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Peace at age 35.
* On February 2, King was arrested in Selma, Alabama during a voting rights demonstration. This demonstration eventually led President Johnson to signed the Voting Rights Act into law.
* On November 2, a national holiday was proclaimed in King's honor.
His Life and Legacy
For all the reasons that MLK was a misfit, this contributed to his success.
By being a son of a preacher who graduated college at the age of 26, he was given the know-how that was necessary to make the speeches that would touch the world. Just by listening to his speeches, one could easily tell that being a southern preacher influenced the way that he spoke to his people. Many speeches came out like sermons, which is probably one of the main reasons why he was so influential to an audience that was rooted in spiritualism.
His education may have also been of assistance in getting laws changed and the other social changes that he made possible.
MLK believed that he could make a change in a time when a lot of people in the black community felt defeated and disillusioned with their situation. People believed that they could not win against the government, they gave up hope for freedom, and became submissive and obedient. Being a civil rights leader in this time was something that would bring you a lot of enemies. In a society where the oppressors benefited from the hopelessness of their subjects, black leaders were seen as “troublemakers” if they inspired their people to resist. Many times police would punish a whole community for the actions of one “hero”. Therefore when other people decided to speak out, they were often chastised by their own people for stirring up trouble. Even though his approach was non violent, MLK is still be considered a rebel in the way that he spoke out against his oppressors and demanded change in a time when blacks were being lynched for speaking out, and outkasted by their own people for causing turbulence.
The American government may not have cooperated with MLK if his approach weren’t non violent. For some people MLK was the only person that they would listen to because of his profound speeches and noble methods of protest, he was looked at as being “different than the rest”. While other civil leaders were crucified by the media, MLK charisma was powerful enough to gain the favor of important political figures, including JFK and Robert Kennedy, who intervened to get him out of jail after a sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina. He made such an impression on the world that he even won a Nobel Peace Prize when he was 35, which made him the youngest person to ever receive such an award. If he had listened to some of his opponents and abandoned his non violent approach, he would not have garnished the acclaim and success that he enjoyed.
The very thing that separated MLK from his peers is the very thing that helped him to succeed. If he did not have the courage to be true to himself, to be non violent in the face of his critics, he might have never made the social changes that made things better for black people today. MLK proved his critics wrong by succeeding with his strategies and giving basic freedoms for the same people who persecuted him.
Sources used in this study:
LSU Libraries - Timeline of Events in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Life
okay cool but he also was illuminati