Did Martin Luther King, Jr. make only a positive contribution to society or was there negativity as well?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that it is very difficult to make an argument that Dr. King did anything but make a positive contribution to society. One can argue that the damage that he did was to institutions and individuals that supported and advocated racism.  Dr. King was able to transform the struggle for Civil Rights for people of color into a human issue, on the same level that the framers of the nation were able to conceive of the struggle for independence from England as a struggle for human independence.  Dr. King was able to do this by invoking the idea of dreams and hope, calling for change through active resistance and dispelling the call for violence, which probably puts him on a higher moral and spiritual level than the framers of the nation who openly called for war.  In creating "the dream" of equality and freedom, Dr. King was able to appeal to people of color, but his reach broadened to all of those who experienced marginalization, providing a vocabulary for "the other" to speak of being included and eliminating the practices of silence.  Dr. King was able to give the vocabulary and language to those who seek change and offer a vision of how society should be as opposed to how it is.  In this light, I can only see positive contributions that he gave to the social fabric of the time period and all that was to follow.

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