Significance of Ideas of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr., the greatest American figure in the 20th century, is also known as one of the very few moral leaders in the modern history.


  • Martin Luther King Jr. is, without doubt, the greatest American figure in the 20th century. A Baptist priest of vast intellectual depth and complexity, King was also a systematic political thinker. His thoughts on non-violence and his struggle against segregation and inequalities in the US influenced several generations of non-violent thinkers and activists.
  • Many around the world continue to consider King as the American Gandhi who through his method of non-violent direct action succeeded in arousing the American nation to the evils of racism and poverty and preparing the enactment of historic civil rights legislation.

King’s ideas

  1. Satyagraha as a tool for positive assertion of rights
  • He became Gandhi’s greatest disciple, by embracing Gandhi’s Satyagraha as a method of struggle for the emancipation of blacks in America.

     2.Non-violence linked to God and human personality

  • He recognised Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of non-violence for the effectiveness of his own campaigns in areas such as integration and voting rights.
  • King came to regard non-violence as an intrinsic deduction from the principle of “personality.
  • One has to look at King’s innumerable references to the idea of “personal God” and to “the sacredness of human personality” to understand the theoretical and practical connections between non-violence and personalism in King’s thoughts and actions.
  • For non violence, he gave a quote darkness can’t be removed by darkness but only with light likewise hatred can’t remove with hatred but with love

     3.Moral order inherent – God’d justice

  • King’s anthropological optimism provided him with a solid trust in the place of justice in history. He asserted: “I have not lost faith, I am not in despair because I know that there is a moral order. I have not lost faith because the arch of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
  • King’s insistence on God’s justice is the important connection between striving for Christian love and establishing the Gandhian strategy of non-violence.

     4.Love as a social tool

  • In King’s view, to restore the broken community in America we need to replace the love of power by the power of love.
  • By relating agape to community interrelatedness, King tries to draw a critical argument against the degrading and inhuman conditions of African Americans in the American society.
  • Here King’s prophetic role plays its part, because he turns Gandhi and the Gospel into social tools for a better social, political and economic order.

     5.Concept of beloved community

  • King considers the beloved community as the logical and inevitable outcome of the synthesis of the Gospel of Jesus and the Gandhian strategy of non-violence.
  • King proclaimed: “All men are interdependent. Every nation is an heir of a vast treasure of ideas and labour to which both the living and the dead of all nations have contributed.”


  • Today, nearly 50 years after his assassination, King’s vision of the beloved community is more relevant than ever in American society and beyond.
  • More than ever, we need to put a spotlight on King’s moral leadership in a world where no politician can be called a moral leader.
  • Extrapolate the ideas as classified onto the varied problems that exists on social, national or international level.

Question for Answer Writing

Q: Martin Luther King Jr., the greatest American figure in the 20th century, is also known as one of the very few moral leaders in the modern history. Discuss his ideas and their significance today.

You Should Also Read