Huge and undeniable. Our Last Great North American Man.
’50s civil rights started with Rosa Parks on a bus, but it was King’s first impassioned speech representing her and the citizens of Montgomery, Alabama that got a whole movement rolling. Eventually civil rights legislation and more protests against war (Viet Nam) and his success inspiring gay, women’s, and others’ protests to gain attention, equality, more freedom and respect as well as more legal rights. The wheels have rolled on through the decades yielding much positive political and social change in North America.
Yes, his fighting spirit, his willingness to march and face hatred and violence, the boldness of his example. Surely, the finest idealism of the sixties and the best of man, particularly the spirit of man (in the widest possible sense).
The idea that a person should not be judged by the color of his or her skin, but by character is still the best and noblest ideal of any true search for equality.
Oh yes, and maybe one more model deserving to be on the height with King in the wake of his inspiration–Nelson Mandela. Our Last Truly Great Men exemplifying what Johnny Clegg called “The Spirit of the Great Heart”. These were the two great heroes of the past seventy years.