Narciso's note: This may be (very) late, but it's never late to celebrate a man who helped better our nation.
Martin Luther King Jr. was no doubt an influential man to millions of Americans, but the man that influenced many, was of course himself influenced. As with anyone, influences make you who you are and King was no different. Important influences to King were Howard Thurman, Mahatma Gandhi and ultimately, Love.
When King attended college in Boston, he would visit his father's former classmate Howard Thurman regularly. Eventually Thurman mentored King, it is safe to say that the Martin Luther King we know today wouldn't have been who he was without Thurman. Thurman was an author, philosopher, theologian, educator and civil rights leader. King did missionary work with Thurman, so through this he was able to travel all over. Later on in King's Life, Thurman became a spiritual advisor.
The influence of King that is known the most, would be Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent approach to protesting. When King was beginning to lose hope in power of love for fixing social problems, he got introduced to Gandhi through a speech given by the president of Howard University at the time, Mordecai Johnson. He then got books and read up on how Gandhi led his people to freedom by not acting out in violence. Howard Thurman's missionary work was actually the reason King eventually got to go to India and visit the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. Kings mindset then had a gradual about-faced as he read more on Gandhi and his success. His first chance to use this new thinking was with the Montgomery Bus Boycotts with Rosa Parks. Within 24 hours, King organized a boycott that lasted over a year. His successful boycott unified his people as well caught the nation's attention.
At the end of the day, it is safe to say that love was King's biggest influence. King was introduced to love way before any of the aforementioned men. Even though he began to lose hope in it, he eventually was reintroduced to it. Love was the key, and King set out to use love as his main weapon against the oppressive nation of that day. If there is anything he will be remembered for, it was the love he had for his people and his nation.
-Avi "Obvious" McClain
Find more from Avi at: