What values did Martin Luther King Jr. reveal in his first speech as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association?

Martin Luther King Jr. revealed in his first speech as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association that he valued hard work, law and order, and Christian principles.

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In this speech, King demonstrates resolve. He asserts that Black people are "tired of being kicked around by the brutal feet of oppression." Although they have endured segregation and humiliation for many years, they are simply tired and are pushed to action, needing to now protest against the "patience that...

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In this speech, King demonstrates resolve. He asserts that Black people are "tired of being kicked around by the brutal feet of oppression." Although they have endured segregation and humiliation for many years, they are simply tired and are pushed to action, needing to now protest against the "patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice." King values the hard work which he is certain will be necessary to reshape society to bring new hope to people who have patiently awaited the rights promised to them.

King also values law and order. He refers to democracy as having great glory, and hope for a better America is woven into his speech. He proclaims that in his quest, Black people will not commit the same crimes that they have witnessed by the KKK and White Citizens Councils:

Their methods lead to violence and lawlessness. But in our protest there will be no cross burnings. No White person will be taken from his home by a hooded Negro mob and brutally murdered...We will be guided by the highest principles of law and order.

King wanted to set himself apart from those who sought equality through violent means and instead sought to work within the law in order to improve the world around him.

As in many of his speeches, King relies on his command of biblical scripture to show his value of Christian principles (such as love, mercy, and peace), relying on the words of Christ: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you." Ultimately, scripture challenged White Christians to reevaluate their beliefs and treatment of their Christian brothers and sisters and to aid King in his quest for racial equality.

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The major values that King revealed in this speech were a commitment to non-violence, a belief in democracy, and a belief that Christianity had a role to play in bringing about social justice in American society.

Of course, King and his audience were very upset with specific aspects of American society and democracy.  However, he specifically glorified American democracy in this speech.  This shows a commitment to the idea that America and its democracy were special. As King says:

And certainly, certainly, this is the glory of America, with all of its faults. (Yeah) This is the glory of our democracy. If we were incarcerated behind the iron curtains of a Communistic nation, we couldn't do this. If we were dropped in the dungeon of a totalitarian regime, we couldn't do this. (All right) But the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right.

King also revaled the idea of nonviolence.  He rejected the idea that the protestors would use weapons or that they would act like the KKK by committing acts of violence against their opponents.  King told the crowd that

The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest.

He also said that

There will be no white persons pulled out of their homes and taken out on some distant road and lynched for not cooperating.

Finally, King reaffirmed the place of religion and Christian values in the movement that he and his audience were starting.  He specifically said that it was a Christian movement.  For example,

...we must keep God in the forefront. (Yeah) Let us be Christian in all of our actions.

 

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