Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the foreground with other people standing attentively in the background

"I Have a Dream" Speech

by Martin Luther King Jr.
Start Free Trial

Martin Luther King, Jr., became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement by doing things that no one else had tried before. What gives you the willpower to try what no one else has attempted?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

To answer this question for yourself, think about something you have done that other people weren't doing. It doesn't have to be something that no one in the world has ever done before. It could be the fact that no one in your family ever wanted to own a dog, and you were the first to get a pet dog. It could be there was a group project at school or in a club you are part of that no one else was volunteering to lead, so you stepped up to lead it. Once you have thought of a situation where you "went out on a limb" and out of your comfort zone, think about what motivated or inspired you to do that. When you think about it, you may find that, like many other people, two things provided you with the inspiration or willpower to take on a task that others had not. 

First, you probably became aware of a felt need, and that need stirred up emotions in you--perhaps sympathy or maybe anger. This was certainly the case for Martin Luther King, Jr. In his day, black people were suffering under unjust laws and discrimination, causing him to feel sympathy for those who were being mistreated and anger at the unjust legal system of the Southern states. In the case of adopting a dog, it might be seeing the sad look in the eyes of an animal at the Humane Society and feeling sorry for it. Or when volunteering to take on a project, it might be that your group members need someone to take charge, and you want to help.

Second, you probably took stock of your strengths and realized that you were well suited to the task in question. You believed you could be a loving master to a dog, or you felt you had the ideas and communication skills to lead a group. For Martin Luther King, Jr., he probably recognized his leadership skills and his ability to make a good argument and express his ideas in ways that inspired others. 

Depending on how significant the task is that a person is taking on, a person can also be motivated by a feeling that he or she is called to do a certain type of work. Some people feel a sense of destiny, and others who are people of faith may feel that God wants them to take on a project. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Baptist minister, so faith was an important part of his life and certainly played a role in his ability to persevere in his goals even when the way was rough. 

You may find that other things, such as the encouragement of family or friends, was also helpful to you in trying something new. But becoming aware of a need that stirs your emotions and believing you have the skills the task requires are two factors that probably helped you attempt what others did not try. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team