It is interesting to contemplate how as the amount of credit King is given for the success of the Civil Rights Movement, the amount given to the constant rebellion of black Americans naturally decreases. By idealizing King the way modern society does, we often under credit the smaller grass roots movements that truly moved black Americans closer to equal rights. I had never heard of the perspective that whether or not Martin Luther King Jr. was present, black people would’ve still fought for and successfully eliminated Jim Crow Laws in the south. We as a society cannot neglect the impact of smaller leaders as well as the tremendous amount of people who dedicated their lives to the Civil Rights movement. Making King into such a heroic figure, romanticizes the story of the civil rights movement and has taken the focus off of the vast amount of nameless African Americans who fought and suffered for equality. It is easier for white society to learn about racial inequality through the lens that one man came along and through his unwavering belief in non-violence ended racism in America. The harsher reality of the fight for racial equality is that it has been happening since the founding of the United States and has not always been peaceful. The reality is that racism still exists in many forms today and that millions of Americans are going to have to put in work to lessen the racism experienced by minorities.
The reading does a good job emphasizing that the accomplishments of MLK go far beyond just being a strong speaker. While his impact has been exaggerated throughout history, his actions in search of equality have also been oversimplified to his charismatic speeches. Not only did MLK become a figure head who could inspire black Americans and have white Americans understand his perspective, but he also actively involved and “immersed” within the everyday actions of Black Americans in search of equality. King himself recognized that perhaps the movement was becoming to closely related to his own identity and within speeches mentioned that the movement existed far beyond himself. The reading also points out how dangerous it is to deeply undermine King’s legacy, as in doing so people will begin to doubt the rest of what he stood for. That is not what I intended in this blog post and it is important that while we as society begin to recognize the true scale of king’s effect on the Civil Rights Movement, we don’t unintentionally under appreciate him or what he stood for. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great leader who deserves to be remembered in history for speeding up and making the civil rights movement less violent, but he was a smaller part of the movement than history credits him for according to historians like Carson.
I’d like to offer a different viewpoint on King’s influence on the Civil Rights movement. According to Carson, King’s presence affected the Civil Rights movement by providing an example for black leaders and communities on how to mobilize the black community to fight for social change. In response, I believe that, to an extent, King did expedite the Civil Rights movement by helping black people to see that they have individual talents and power that they can contribute to the movement too.
Throughout history, I feel as if we continually place all of the glory on leaders. We ignore the work that the invisible leaders put into place in order to progress the movement.Not only that, but I also agree with your comment on how we tend to glorify MLK in order to romanticize the movement. It is important to acknowledge their suffering and pain when fighting for inequality in our country.
I think that one tangible step we can all take to mend the historical undermining of King’s legacy is to read “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. This letter of his excellently conveys the failures of the white moderates that support the movement to the extent that it does not threaten their privilege in society. King fought actively against the idea that white supremacy would disappear on its own in a dormant society, so we must continue to fight for the evolvement of social change as society remains dynamic.
I too believe that while King’s actions have been exaggerated throughout time, he did truly have an incredibly profound and positive impact on hundreds of thousands of people. His work in his speeches speak for themselves and show the amazing things Martin Luther King Jr stood for. He will forever be remembered as an amazing leader with amazing vision.