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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Stephen Phinney


The man, the legend, the preacher. While I honor the work our Lord accomplished in Dr. King, I am aware of the human frailties this man possessed.


 

Dead people tend to be glorified AND exaggerated after they pass. It happens to the best of the Lord’s weak vessels of humanity. Dr. King is no different.


Martin grew up in humble beginnings. Born in Atlanta, Georgia. His father left their family's sharecropper farm to become a minister of the Gospel. After King Sr. married Alberta, they were blessed with three children, Dr. King being the middle child. One of his father’s first commissions was the Associate Pastor position at Ebenezer church. After the death of the Senior Pastor, King Senior took the role of head of the church. Thus, Dr. King grew up as a typical “preachers-kid.”


As the norm for child discipline in those days, Dr. King grew up with strong parental discipline. However, it was his grandmother that would tell lively Biblical stories to the children. King was close to his grandmother. So much so, once, when his grandmother was knocked unconscious, thinking she was dead, he attempted suicide by jumping from a second-story window. While his attempt was fruitless, his devotion to his grandmother grew more intense after realizing she was not dead. However, it needs to be noted that King suffered “depression” throughout his life, even up to his death.


Like many leaders who suffer from despair, King turned these dark times into fighting for life, not only for himself but those around him. He believed that despair is birth out of bondage to darkness. He further believed that darkness was birthed through slavery – of any type.


Dr. King’s passion for equality began with a friendship with a “white boy” who lived across the street from their home. At the early age of six, he was troubled that his friend was attending an all-white school while King was required to attend a “black” school. Soon, his friend's parents stopped allowing King to play with their son. During this time, King’s parents educated him on his family’s history of slavery and racism. Early on, King stated, “I will determine to hate every white person.” Accounts reveal that it took relentless training by his parents to cement the doctrines of, “Son, it is your Christian duty to love everyone.” Honestly, as in the case of most great leaders, it was King’s parents who were the real heroes in this story.


Through childhood, King watched his father stand up to oppressors of segregation and discrimination while respecting the ideology of a colorless society. Through endless demonstrations of his father refusing segregation, either by the ministry or purchasing items in “white” merchant stores, King began to learn the balance of Grace and resistance.


While Dr. King is noted for his marches and protests against segregation, in reality, his father led hundreds of civil rights marches in politically driven public places. King Sr. was a brilliant pastor. He knew that the key to freedom in America was in voting in leaders that would sustain a colorless society – each bearing equal rights as citizens of the land of the free. King Jr. later referenced his father, saying, “My father was a real father to me.” Again, who was the real hero in our story?