I find it interesting how King has almost become an American myth. Carson mentions how MLK is a, “Black counterpart to the static, heroic myths that have embalmed George Washington as the Father of His Country and Abraham Lincoln as the Great Emancipator.” I feel like it has gotten to the point where like Lincoln and Washington, we really aren’t taught what they actually did. King is typically viewed as the “leader” of the Civil Rights Movement, however, “The myth emphasizes the individual at the expense of the black movement, it not only exaggerates King’s historical importance but also distorts his actual, considerable contribution to the movement.” Carson mentions how many actions taken by Civil Rights activists are seemingly viewed as at the directive of Dr. King.
Many of the activists looked up to King, but many other important leaders are overlooked because of his portrayal. For example, “Local black leaders such as E.D. Nixon, Rosa Parks, and Jo Ann Robinson started the bus boycott before King became the leader of the Montgomery Improvement Association.” This is detrimental to the Civil Rights Movement as a whole, because it’s important to recognize all the sacrifices these people made, not just Dr. King. Carson uses the examples of the sit-ins and bus boycotts, MLK was not a leader of either of these actions, yet he gets credit as leading them.
King’s importance however should not be discredited. While he should certainly not be considered the sole leader of the Civil Rights Movement he was certainly an important figure. The Civil Rights Movement’s success was in large part due to, “King’s wide range of skills and attributes prepared him to meet the internal as well as the external demands of the movement.” King can definitely get credit for being an excellent leader, and he was able to mobilize both white and black people to support the movement.