By Mrinal Gokhale
His peaceful protests against segregation and racism against African Americans, such as the Montgomery bus segregation protests probably come to mind, as well.
Having established a reputation as one of the greatest speakers and advocates in American history, King is an inspiration mainly to blacks, but his humanitarian career spreads beyond that.
Below are some more accomplishments and milestones that also happened in King’s life, which some may or may not have learned about.
• He was inspired by Gandhi.
King used to own guns for self-defense purposes, but he first learned about “nonviolence” after learning about Mahatma Gandhi’s approach to protesting. In 1959, he visited India to deepen his understanding of nonviolence, later announcing on the radio that nonviolence is the best form of protest to help oppressed peoples.
• He started Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
As a Christian minister, King formed this religious group that advocated for non-violence during the Civil Rights movement.
• He started an anti-poverty campaign.
In 1968 during the March on Washington, King helped lead the Poor People’s Campaign with over 3,000 supporters, advocating for economic rights for people of all backgrounds.
King was inspired by the campaign after seeing that people still have difficulty making ends meet, as evidenced by the “welfare mom” stereotype and racism and sexism preventing people from finding good paying jobs.
Through a proposed $30 billion package, King strived to create employment, guarantee a monthly income and build 500,000 affordable housing sites.
• He advocated safe working conditions.
While working on the Poor People’s Campaign, King also helped lead the Memphis Sanitation Strike shortly before his assassination.
King became inspired to help with the strike after learning that many black sanitation workers experienced low wages and unsafe working conditions.
After he spoke in February 1968 during the second march, the strike lasted 64 days and ended in April, with the City of Memphis giving the workers their wishes: union recognition, higher pay and no more discrimination.
• He just barely escaped death.
Before King’s assassination, he survived a near-death experience at his Strive Toward Freedom book signing.
Izola Curry, a schizophrenic African-American woman, stabbed King with a letter opener at his signing due to delusions and paranoia she developed about the NAACP.
King’s heart had to be surgically opened to remove the blade, which touched his aorta. His doctor claimed that if he sneezed, the aorta would have been punctured.