It would be very uncomforting to walk around every day having to worry about someone trying to kill you every minute. I know if someone was after me, I probably would not bother to ever leave my house. It would take a lot of courage and discipline to look death square in the eye each day as you wake up. This semester I took Professor Ivory’s class on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Before taking this class I knew that people hated King and what he stood for, but I had never considered the psychological effects it had on him. I watched the video, “The King Assassination” and throughout the video I began to understand that King had come to terms with his death long before it occurred, and it this acceptance of death that kept him from losing sight of what he was trying to achieve in spite of people trying to murder him.
We all know the saying, “Live each day like it’s your last”, but I do not think that this is a conscious thought that we have on a dial basis, but Dr. King had to literally live each day like it was his last due to the severity of hatred circulating throughout the country that aimed directly at him and his campaign. Dr. King never faulted in faith, and handled the subject matter so smoothly that he was able to joke about it with his peers. From the video I learned that King would even practice giving the eulogies of his coworkers-jokingly of course. Dr. King had a special way of making sure that those around him remained non-anxious with the chances of death, which illustrates that he was not nervous about the chance of death. What is most interesting is the fact that King predicted his death early on. There were two occurrences that factored into his prediction of his death. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy (a close friend of Dr. King's and advocate of Civil Rights) played a critical role. This is the point where King new that matters were getting critical and tensions were beginning to hit boiling point. If the President could not be protected against violence due to the struggle for societal equality, King knew that there was no way that he could be fully protected. Additionally, in 1967, he delivered the speech “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam”. I do not know what spirit moved in him, but somehow after making this speech he knew that he was not going to make it past the next year.
The subject of death is sensitive matter for anyone, so King’s compliance with death a relatively early age speaks a lot about his character in relation to his urgency for social change. He dedicated a large portion of his life to make life better for future generations, but he did it at the expense of himself while putting his wife and children in even greater risk as well. Dr. King could have and probably should have backed out at any moment and let younger emerging leaders take care of the matter, but he never flaked on his beliefs. His diligence has me in awe, and the selflessness he exhibited to such a cruel world is beyond what most people would be able do.
Sometimes I wonder how this world would have turned out if King was not assassinated. And I also wonder what he thinks of our progress (or lack thereof). Do you think racial injustice would have made greater progress, had King not been killed early on or do you think the tensions between white and blacks would have continued to escalate? Also, do you think you have been psychologically able to face death head on for years?
Also here is the link to the video, it is pretty long but worth watching!