As Court’s historical ruling in Brown v. Board of

As we all known, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a well-known
leader and he possessed many characteristics as a leader. Martin Luther King Jr.

was an American activist, clergyman and a leader of the African American Civil
Rights Movement. Born in January 15, 1929, the memory of MLK has remained in
the minds of many because of the role he played in advancing the civil rights
of Americans and people all over the world. All the efforts by MLK were in
accordance to the teachings of Gandhi and he used nonviolent means in his
battle against the oppression of the white people.

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Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. led the Civil Rights Movement in the mid-1950s and 1960s.

Through his work, Dr. King is remembered as a pioneer for equality (Cone,
1992). A seminary trained minister, Godwin, Houghton,Neck and Mohan (2011)
assert that Dr. King “developed his moral, spiritual and leadership values from
the African-American’s most influential body, the church” (p. 24). As a Baptist
minister, Dr. King fought within his community in Alabama to end the Jim Crow
laws that prohibited African Americans from interacting with the white
population (Cones, 1992). In 1954, a breakthrough occurred with the U.S.

Supreme Court’s historical ruling in Brown v. Board of Education; therefore,
finding it unconstitutional to segregate black and white school children
(McGuire &Hutchings, 2007).In spite of the ruling, the Southern states did
not desegregate schools immediately until it was forced to desegregate.

Following the desegregation of the school systems, the Montgomery Bus Boycott
led to the desegregation of the public transportation system. Throughout the
mid-50s and mid-60s, violence against African Americans
increased as a means to limit the social change that has been instituted in the
United States for over one hundred year (Cone, 1992). It was under Dr. King’s
leadership that the African American community boycotted the public bus system
in Montgomery for over a year until the Supreme Court deemed public segregation
unconstitutional (Cone, 1992). International Journal of Business and Social
Research (IJBSR), Volume -3, No.-8, August, 2013 immediately after the arrest
of Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was asked to
serve as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), his first
appointed leadership position (Garrow, 1987). As a result of the arrest of Rosa
Parks, the Montgomery Improvement Association instituted a public bus boycott
(Garrow, 1987; Glennon, 1991). The mission of the MIA was to desegregate the
public buses in Montgomery, Alabama as opposed to having a white section at the
front of the public bus and a black section at the back of the public bus
(Garrow, 1987). Originally, Dr. King and the MIA assumed white officials would
be willing to negotiate with the African-American community on desegregation,
but after eleven months there public transportation system in Montgomery was
still segregated (Garrow, 1987; Glennon, 1991). It was not until the U.S.

Supreme Court ruling in Browder v Gayle, in June 1956, which deemed public
transportation segregation unconstitutional did Montgomery desegregate the
public transportation system (Glennon, 1991). In 1957 Dr. King, alongside his
wife Coretta Scott, instituted the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
(McGuire & Hutchings, 2007).The main purpose of Southern Christian
Leadership Conference according to (Laing, 2009), was to foster the influence
of nonviolence as a way of instituting social change The purpose of the SCLC
“was to challenge the White hegemony used to legitimize the oppression of
African Americans.” (p. 641) The SCLC, under the leadership of Dr. King, fought
to reform policies and organizational constraints that oppressed African
American people (Laing, 2009).As a member of the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Alabama Council on Human Rights,
Dr. King fought tirelessly to bring about social and economic change for
African American people (Cone, 1992). At the urging of members of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference, the student-led sit-ins and non-violent
protests continued with the support of Dr. King (Carson, 2005). It was the culmination
of the events of the mid-1950s through the early 1960s that led to the March on
Washington on August 28, 1963. The March on Washington celebrated “the
one-hundredth anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and it
protested ongoing racism in American society” (Vander Lei & Miller, 1999,
p. 84). Initially, the “I Have a Dream” speech was intended to send a message
of economic equality; however, Dr. King continued to be plagued by the violent
outbreaks against African Americans during the Civil Rights era (Godwin et al.,
2011). Through this monumental moment on American history, one of the greatest
social leaders delivered one of the most influential speeches of modern time.

Considering the steps and actions that Martin Luther used in
pushing his dream, it is evident that he was a transformational leader. Luther
had a powerful and concrete vision, which he clearly expressed to his followers
and gave them the inspiration to share and support this dream. The fact that
Luther had a clear sense of where he was leading his followers made him a
transformational leader.

As a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Luther was faced by
major threats and actual danger. However, he is not shaken at any point. As a
matter of fact, all this danger was a motivation for him to strive ahead and
tell his followers about the reality of the situation they were in. It is also
important to note that Luther openly acknowledged the abilities of his
followers, showing them that he believed in them. Luther was not afraid to
state things as they were and at no point in time did he accept to compromise
what he knew was right. Not only was Luther a figure of influence, but he also
inspired his followers to be great. These are the qualities we look at when
considering a transformational leader (Chris, 2016).

There are also a couple of aspects in King’s leadership style that are drawn
from follower-focused leadership theories. Luther played a major role in
advocating for the rights of the oppressed African-Americans. Luther’s commitment
to his s followers is evidenced in his historic ‘I have a dream’ speech, where
he challenges the authors of the nation’s constitution to keep their promise of
a fair America for everyone. King fought for an inclusive change, where no one
would be judged according to his color but by their actions and character.

Luther’s leadership can also be seen as authentic because he
focused on molding a consensus. This can be especially seen in the civil rights
movement, where King managed to bring together multiple organizations with
different leaders, and they still achieved a consensus. King focused on
moderation and this is what to the success of his movement. Another aspect of
king’s follower-focused leadership was seen in his emphasis for peace, where he
called people not to be buried in the darkness of selfishness but rather, they
remain in the light of selflessness. The concept of leadership is all about
being able to stand up for your followers and fight for their rights, not to be
afraid of the opposition faced and above all, to use non-violent means in your
leadership. A leader should be willing to sacrifice for the wellbeing of his
followers. Leadership is about setting goals for the followers. All these are
aspects that Martin Luther continually expressed throughout his leadership.

Luther set a goal for himself that he would not rest until all the black people
were free from segregation and unfairness (“Leadership
and Martin Luther King’s Dream”, 2016). I chose to work on Martin
Luther King Jr. specifically because it is very admirable how he took up on
such a major task by himself without looking back at any point. Another reason
why I focused on the leadership style of King is because it was rather unique
and involved no violent means. King emphasized on the importance of peace in
all of his speeches, protests and marches (“Leadership
Styles: Martin Luther King vs. Jim Jones – Alternative Considerations of
Jonestown & Peoples Temple”, 2016).