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‘What Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Means to Me’ PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 January 2009 11:39

EDITOR’S NOTE: The winners of this year’s annual essay on “What Dr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Means to Me” have been announced by the sponsor, the Douglas A. Smith Chapter of the Masonic Lodge in Liberal. Winning first place was Maria Pohorecki. Second place went to Emily Henderson, and third was won by Jesus Moreno. The first and second place essays follow in their entirety.


• Special to the Daily leader

In less than a week, Barack Obama will be the first black man sworn into office of the U.S. Presidency. A few weeks after Obama turned 2, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made one of the most powerful speeches in world history: the “I Have a Dream” speech. He did not know that there was a baby in Hawaii who, though born into racism and segregation, would become the first black president. But Dr. King’s message to the world was not just to fight racism and segregation.

His goal was to make people believe that each individual has power and anything can be achieved peacefully. I have always had all the civil rights I need, but that doesn’t mean there are not things I have to struggle for.

Every day gives challenges. Sometimes these challenges mean math class, sometimes they mean controlling my temper when someone makes me angry. When I think of all the people I hear about in the news and how much help they need, knowing that Dr. King accomplished his goal helps me know that things are not impossible. With enough determination and love, I can do anything. Dr. King set his goals in a time when people were being hung for sharing his opinion. Still, he was not afraid. He got many death threats while leading the civil rights movement, but this did not stop him, because he knew that giving into fear was the biggest threat to the civil rights movement.

He had constant faith in himself and in God, and using just these tools (plus a microphone), he laid the ground for change.

Someday, I would like to help somebody in need. Even in our great country, where there are many positive things, we have problems.

There are very many homeless people in the streets. Many people argue that it is their own fault for being homeless. Other people argue that the problem will never stop. Well, in my opinion, if it’s their fault or not, does not mean the problem is not there. And how would I help these people? I am only one person, one Maria. How much can I do? If Dr. King were next to me, he would say that being afraid of failing should not guide me. He would tell me that if I help one person, two or 1,000, the important thing is to believe I can do it.

And when I can make one change, making another will be that much easier.

Dr. King said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” I am 14 years old, but I have ideas and dreams. As long as there are people on this Earth, we will always need to look up to somebody like Dr. Matin Luther King Jr. to assure us that anything is possible. He is alive because people need him. We need his teachings. I need his teachings.


By Emily Henderson

• Special to the Daily leader

On the fourth day of April in 1968, an astounding human rights activist was killed while standing on the second story balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. Martin Luther King Jr. spent the majority of his life fighting for the civil rights of African Americans and became one of the most influential people our country has ever given birth to.

Even though King’s main focus was for the civil rights of the “colored” population, many people of various races can still look to him for inspiration.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an extremely brave man. There are not many people in our world who would take the large and courageous steps that he took.

Putting others first is not a common trait seen in our nation, but King was willing to put his life on the line if it meant that he could somehow make the lives of others a little bit better. King stood strong by his morals day-in and day-out knowing that his job was not safe by any means.

Despite the continuous adversities he went through, he never gave up.

It’s sad, because I have witnessed a lot of people in my life who have come face-to-face with a speed bump in their walk of life and gave up without putting up a fight. They forgot about the goals for which they were once striving to reach. King was abused, discriminated against and even arrested because of the color of his skin, yet he never threw in the towel.

A highly respected characteristic of King was the fact he never used a bit of violence against those who were constantly persecuting him.

I have seen numerous people who have such a bad temper that any little thing will set them off, and they immediately start throwing punches or yelling put profanities.

What this great man accomplished goes much further than the United States’ walls. People can take what King taught his listeners and apply it to their own lives: whether they are intelligent or uneducated, rich or poor, white or polkadotted, it doesn’t matter.

There is a well-known quote form Mahandas Gandhi that says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” King followed every bit of this advice; he had the courage to go out into the crowded racist streets and show the transformation he wanted to see happen in the world.

Everyone in our world should be motivated by King’s audacity; if a black man in the 1950s can effect change, anyone has the power to do the same.

King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when he was only 35 years old, making him the youngest man to ever receive the award. King then generously turned around and donated all the money he won to the civil rights movement.

Martin Luther king Jr. was someone who is of great importance to me because of him, I don’t have to stand around and watch the poor treatment of fellow Americans. King was such an amazing individual, every time I hear or read about his testimony, I am inspired. He did much more than improve the lives of African Americans. He made life more bearable for all minorities. Along with the civil rights movement, King portrayed nearly every characteristic of a person that I hope to someday become: honest, brave, successful, hard working and moralistically stable. He showed that with enough perseverance, one can stick to their morals without raising a fist.

In his short 39 years, he helped change the face of America forever and encouraged the defeated to never give up. If Martin Luther King Jr. isn’t an ideal role model for our world, I don’t know who is.



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