I think that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. may have been the greatest American, if not one of the greatest. Why? If George Washington was the father of our Country, then MLK was the voice of our conscience. I don’t mean to diminish the importance, or the greatness and sacrifices of others, but MLK embodied the greatness of America unlike any other American in our history. He was a product of an imperfect America – an America that fell short of the ideals of the revolution of 1776, but nevertheless an America that was free enough to nurture men of character. He was the product of American revolutionaries who changed the world and a revolutionary who changed America.
MLK was a Patriot because he was uncompromising in his vision of a just and free country. He was politically active but not political in the sense that he was seeking power. If America was founded on an idea he sought to make America realize the ideal. He was a revolutionary in a much deeper way because he advocated not just political revolution but social revolution as well. He was a revolutionary who used moral example instead of guns – a revolution by personal transformation and action.
The writings and speeches of Dr. King are certainly worth reading. Nobody can ignore the changes Dr. King helped us to accomplish. Whether speaking of a Promised Land or denouncing war as a foreign policy, MLK challenged himself, his friends as well as his enemies to a fuller realization of the American ideal.