Martin Luther King Jr.: Ideas That Changed the World


Human history presents numerous ideas, concepts, philosophies, and thoughts that have the potential to influence nations and governments across the world. The idea of learning from the past is an evidence-based practice that has moved America forward. The legal, moral, economic, political, and social achievements experienced in the United States today are attributable to the courageousness and zeal of great leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Waldo Emerson, and David Henry Thoreau.

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The cause and effect essay presented below examines the sources of King’s inspiration and how his actions and activities resulted in a new society that supports the diverse needs of many citizens in the country and across the world. It also offers several examples to explain why and how human beings should examine the principles associated with different great scholars in order to achieve their potential in life.

Sources of Inspiration and Ideas

Martin Luther King Jr. remains one of the outstanding figures whose efforts and ideas transformed America for the better. Drawing ideas and concepts from the past, this leader empowered many African Americans to fight for their rights and rebel against any form of injustice. Such an initiative became a driving force that encouraged many people in the United States to pursue their demands and focus on concepts that could address most of the challenges they faced. Heit believes that this leader explored some of the most powerful ideas and concepts from great scholars and thinkers, including Henry David Thoreau and Mohandas K. Gandhi (57). These leaders managed to empower more people to disobey inappropriate laws and engage in activities that could compel the government of the day to address their needs.

In the year 1849, Henry David Thoreau wrote an inspirational essay that examined the roles of the government and its laws in supporting and empowering its citizens. The essay “Civil Disobedience” became an immediate sensation in the United States. This is one of the outstanding quotes from his essay: “It is never too late to give up your prejudices. Any way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof” (Green 37). What the author means here is that all men should be ready to get rid of all political and social demands. Instead, they should embrace the concept of self-reliance and be in a position to achieve their potential in life. This practice can make it easier for them to lead fruitful lives.

The essay encourages people to be non-conformists and develop appropriate competencies that can empower them to make their decisions. This kind of practice will result in increased satisfaction. The individual will also address all the frustrations and challenges he or she might encounter in life. When there is brutality and injustice from leaders, the passage guides people to engage in violence or madness (Green 52).

This approach can protect them from any form of abuse. This kind of self-knowledge will result in awareness and empower different societies to fight against every unjust course or agenda. This quote goes further to support the message Thoreau presents in his famous essay (Green 42). This is true since the work argues that human beings have the right to get rid of inappropriate, unjust, or evil laws. The scholar presents this idea as the right path for leading a contented or better life.

Mohandas K. Gandhi shared similar insights towards the end of the 19th century. Before becoming an influential leader, Gandhi read numerous publications and essays by great thinkers such Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Thoreau. The works of these philosophers made it possible for him to accept that unjust laws were inappropriate for every society. The acquired lessons and concepts empowered this freedom fighter to guide his followers in order to achieve their potential and live peacefully.

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One of the outstanding passages by Gandhi is: “The candle of nonviolence should be able to burn even when the cyclone of violence surrounds it. We must practice nonviolence even when surrounded by violence” (Gandhi 58). Using similar thoughts and understanding, Gandhi was ready to guide many people to pursue their rights.

The inspirations acquired from Thoreau and other great scholars guided Gandhi to organize massive nonviolent protests against Britain’s control and colonization of India. Many citizens realized that most of the activities and goals of different settlers made it impossible for them to pursue their objectives (Gandhi 61). They were unable to engage in economic activities and formulate superior laws that could support their cultural needs and goals. The action plans, pursuits, and relentlessness of this hero are what led to India’s independence from Britain in the year 1947 (Gandhi 63). This is a clear indication that Thoreau’s thoughts would inform the actions, ideas, and personal philosophies of many future leaders, including Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Achievements

Borrowing numerous ideas from the works of Thoreau, Gandhi organized nonviolent protests against British control in his country. Such peaceful acts were aimed at informing the targeted colonialists about the dangers and challenges many Indians faced in their respective societies. These achievements would later inspire King to develop a superior leadership philosophy that would empower and guide many African Americans to fight for their rights (Heit 94). Throughout the Civil Rights Movement (CRM) period, this leader embraced the principles of nonviolence from Gandhi and the concept of civil disobedience from Thoreau.

The ideas acquired from the above two thinkers empowered Martin Luther King to give this quotation: “Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression, abuse, and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method, which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love” (Heit 172). With this kind of understanding, King was able to guide many followers to engage in nonviolent protests in different cities in the United States. This means that most of the people used nonviolent means to communicate to the government and support the formulation of new laws and policies that addressed their needs.

The experiences and observations Thoreau made during his time empowered him to present appropriate schemes for engaging in protests against any form of leadership that oppresses its people. The concept of civil disobedience emerged and continued to influence human behaviors, thoughts, and expectations (Green 126). Gandhi would later consider the lessons gained from this philosopher to develop a powerful nonviolent philosophy for fighting for independence in India. Similarly, King studied such notions and principles in order to develop a superior model for addressing the existing challenge of discrimination in the United States (Heit 179). This is a clear indication that the actions of these individuals would have a cause and effect on future human behaviors and goals.

Resultant Effects

Drawing on the past to move the United States forward, King managed to present numerous ideas, notions, and inspirations that continue to reshape the lives of many citizens today. During his time, America was a nation facing the problem of segregation. Many people were speared due to the issues of inequality and racism. During the Civil Rights Movement, King encouraged his African American followers to engage in nonviolent actions in order to force the government to address most of the challenges affecting them (Heit 103). Although the ultimate objective was to fight for equality, the leader’s speeches and messages would eventually impact many people positively and encourage them to pursue their goals.

During the period, King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech that empowered many people to formulate attainable goals and pursue them diligently. Heit indicates that many segregationists in the United States were against his actions and messages (185). This was the reason why they became more angry and oppressive, thereby engaging in atrocious actions that affected many African Americans.

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In 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated because of his famous speech. Heit argues that this hero’s achievements would have far-reaching implications on the experiences and lives of many African Americans in their respective societies (193). His messages are believed to have led to the enactment of new laws that continue to protect many American citizens from every form of injustice, including discrimination, underrepresentation, and oppression, and reduced employment opportunities.

The works, ideas, speeches, and messages associated with Martin Luther had a major impact from the 1960s. This was the case because many people understood the importance of fighting for rights and getting rid of repression. Heit goes further to argue that King’s efforts continue to impact the lives and experiences of many people in the United States and across the world (188). Global citizens can examine this leader’s life and promote appropriate actions and ideas that will eventually promote equality and justice for all. This approach can also empower different racial groups and community members to live harmoniously.

Similar concepts can empower organizations, institutions, and governments to promote equality and ensure that all people realize their potential. King’s speech can guide human beings to make the world a better place for every individual. In the future, many communities will find the thoughts associated with great thinkers such as Gandhi and Thoreau meaningful and capable of catalyzing superior concepts for transforming the world.


The above cause and effect literary essay has revealed that some of the works by people like Thoreau and Gandhi influenced the decisions and ideas of Martin Luther King. Drawing on the past to move the United States forward, this leader identified appropriate ideas to empower and encourage his followers to engage in nonviolent actions. The main goal or expectation was to fight oppression and ensure that more citizens from minority groups had access to numerous opportunities and resources. The completed discussion has indicated that such concepts managed to change the world and will continue to influence the actions, behaviors, and objectives of many people in the future.

Works Cited

Heit, Jamey. The Politics of the Hunger Games. McFarland, 2015.

Gandhi, Arun. The Gift of Anger: And Other Lessons from My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi. Jeter Publishing, 2017.

Green, Jeffrey L. Decision Point: Real-Life Ethical Dilemmas in Law Enforcement. CRC Press, 2014.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Martin Luther King Jr.: Ideas That Changed the World." July 29, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Martin Luther King Jr.: Ideas That Changed the World'. 29 July.

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