This week our nation honored the memory and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. The civil rights leader who was taken down by a sniper’s bullet 42 years ago in April was only 39 at the time of his death. By that age he had changed the course of our nation, perhaps our world.
As we reflect on his life and orations, we can’t help but be in awe of his knowledge and eloquence—particularly at such a young age. He was only 34 when he made his famous “I Have A Dream” speech at the March on Washington.
But perhaps more impressive to us is his letter from Birmingham City Jail written a few months earlier. In his impassioned writing, composed while in solitary confinement, King quotes several notable people from history, all with the orchestrated effort at making his case for being an extremist, albeit a peaceful one, for a worthy cause. We can only assume this was done from memory as we doubt they allowed many reference materials in solitary.
This man, a black man, was a college student at the age of 15. He earned a divinity degree and a doctorate in philosophy. We refuse to believe he was simply a person who spoke well—who knew the right words and lingo. There was substance behind his persona.
It is no wonder that he influenced so many people and made history. Sure, he was no saint. He was human and had flaws that some people debate, but that doesn’t change the inspiring truth found in his words.
An already famous person dying young nearly always insures some sort of legacy, but we think Martin Luther King Jr. is worthy of some praise and certainly a more detailed glance in the history of our nation.