In the Company of Martin Luther King Jr.

Updated: Jan 20

On Monday, January 17th, we took time to remember the just and moral work of Rev. Dr. Martin

Luther King Jr. by celebrating his birthday. Actually, his birthday is January 15, but the national holiday was set for the 3rd Monday in January when it was signed into law in 1983 and first celebrated on January 20, 1986. King would be celebrating his 93rd birthday this year, as we celebrate the vision he cast and the work that continues to make that vision a reality. Even though we celebrate now, King’s work has not always been as celebrated or revered as it is today.


Public Legacy


Martin Luther King Jr.’s public legacy has changed since his assassination on April 4, 1968. In a 1999 Gallup poll, King was found to be the 2nd most admired individual of the 20th century by Americans, behind only Mother Teresa. When he was alive however, Martin Luther King Jr. was not as well received. His non-violent fight against racial and economic American norms won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, but also led a Gallup poll in 1966 to find that twice as many Americans viewed King unfavorably (66%) as they did favorably (33%). Broken down further, Gallup results revealed that while 12% of Americans polled held a highly favorable view of Martin Luther King Jr., 44% of Americans polled had a highly unfavorable view. One of the most beloved Americans in our time was once one of the most despised Americans in his time.


A Good Reminder


Martin Luther King Jr.’s changing favorability over the years reminds us that the work of building a culture, world, or even a life that is accessible, just, equitable, openly diverse, and inclusive is not easy and may not be welcomed by some around us. However, the fact that King is so revered today indicates that our society recognizes the value of working to create an AJEDI world, that the arc of history does bend towards justice, and that the work is worth it. Following in King’s footsteps is one way of making the vision a reality. If you want a refresher of the vision King set out and we can continue to work for today, here are some of his more well-known speeches/writings:


“I Have A Dream” (transcript/video)


Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech (transcript/video)


“The Other America” (transcript/video)


“The Three Evils of Society” (transcript/video)


“Letter from A Birmingham Jail” (transcript/video)


Martin Luther King Jr. lived the vision of social justice and Accessibility, Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (AJEDI), even though he was not always well received because of it.


Let’s Explore Together


If you are interested in exploring how the social transformation of AJEDI work can be done in your business or your personal life, join me and your peers in an AJEDI in Our Everyday Lives Think Tank or the Basic Aspects of DEI Work in Businness Online Workshop Series. I would also cherish the opportunity to explore more with you personally if you’d like to contact me at zac@leadershipharbor.com or by setting up a complimentary discovery session at the link below. If you are actively continuing King’s work in the world in some way, I would be honored to hear about it as this is a journey we cannot take alone. It is not easy work, but we find ourselves in good company when we commit ourselves to it.


Your partner in the journey,


Zac




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