Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & to Be the Leader of Me!

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

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FOR NIE (Newspapers In Education)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. & To Be the Leader of Me!

If you studied Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, you learned that he was a smart man who was also a Reverend, which is a leader in his church.  In fact, he was a leader of many things.  He was a leader in his home, in his community and in his school.  He was a leader of civil rights, a leader by encouraging others to solve problems peacefully, to stand up for what you believe in without fighting, and so much more. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a leader who said and did many inspirational things.  For example, Dr. King once said, “Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives.”   What does this mean?  His words encourage us to remember we are human and can create our own future.  We are free to make good or bad decisions in each moment.  We have the opportunity to sit and think before deciding what we should do.  When we have problems or believe someone is treating us unfairly, it is important to figure out our options and make the best decisions possible.  Try to think of potential solutions, even if you feel they are silly.  The more options you can think of, the better.  Why?  Because over time, you will learn how to solve problems creatively and you will recognize there is always more than one solution. 

For instance, years ago people thought they had to “fight for their rights” violently.  Dr. King sat down and thought of different ways to make his voice heard without hurting others.  He modeled the behavior he wanted to see in the world.  He inspired people who were black or white to get involved in the civil rights movement.   He used his voice, his heart and his intelligence to reach millions.  He marched peacefully but stood firm in his desire to have all people treated equally, regardless of color.

Keep in mind, Dr. King thought about the future and had a dream for America.  He dreamed of peace and equality for his children.  Dr. King recognized that people can be different, look different and have different thoughts and still be accepted.   Everyone is important, talented and has a special contribution to make.  We should respect each other and appreciate the differences.

Remember, anyone can be a leader.  You can choose to be a leader in art, science, music, history, your classroom, your church, sports and so much more.  How can you be a leader like Dr. King?  Start by being the leader of you!  Learn to make decisions that are positive for you and good for others.  Challenge yourself to be the best person you can be each and every day.  Think about the future and dream big.  What is your dream for America and how can you make a difference?  Live your dream and when you see something that’s unfair or unjust, look into your heart, consider your options and take peaceful action to make a difference.

Did you know?  Did you know that at the age of 35, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize?  When he was told he would be given $54,000 with his prize, he announced he would turn over the prize money to help with the civil rights movement. 

Did you know?  Did you know that Dr. King graduated from high school at age 15?  He then went on to college and earned his Bachelors Degree.  Afterwards, he went to Seminary school, was elected president of a predominantly white senior class and eventually earned his PHD.

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Rachel Harris Monteverdi is the Warren County Family & Consumer Sciences Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, a division of North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University.  The Family & Consumer Sciences department incorporates prenatal to end-of-life programs.  Priorities for North Carolina citizens include:  Family & Parenting Education; Balancing Work & Family Workshops; Academic Success; Elder Care; Active Aging; Planning for the Future; Home Ownership & Housing Issues; Conservation & Environmental Issues; Leadership; Emergency Management and more.  Call 252-257-3640, email Rachel_Monteverdi@ncsu.edu or visit http://warren.ces.ncsu.edu for additional information.