*Photo credit: Vanessa Evans of Visual Vixen Photography
There’s really not much more I can say about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the importance of his legacy that hasn’t already been said. His legacy and sacrifice is the reason I’m able to live the freedoms that I enjoy on a daily basis. As an African American woman in the United States, my life was limited to only a few opportunities, but his fearlessness created a path for me to pursue my dreams and share my life with people of all different races and cultures.
As I look at the amazing photos that Vanessa Evans, our Visual Vixen, took when she visited some of the places that Dr. King lived, worked, and finally rested, it is a firm reminder to me that God will use humble beginnings and ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Its a reminder that nothing can stop a man or a woman with a purpose and a dream.
What I Learned About Building A Legacy
1. Believe in your gift.
Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an educated man and a pastor. He was able to keep a congregation focused and energized with the eloquence of his words. His gift was words. He had a phenomenal way to reveal raw emotions in his audience, and he fully used his gift in everything that he did. When he is long gone, his words live on in the hearts of Americans forever. There were other civil rights leaders at the time, that were using different tactics to get their point across. Can you imagine what would have happened if Dr. King moved away from his gifting, and followed the crowd? We all have gifts that we can and should be using to bless others.
2. Never fear opposition.
Dr. King knew that the world was not ready for what he had to say, but he didn’t stop saying what needed to be said. He know that he wasn’t going to win the favor of the majority, in speaking and doing what the minority was terrified of doing. Dr. King faced jail time, violence, and death threats against him and his family. But he also knew the significance of his purpose. Dr. King is an example of fearless, purposeful living. None of us will ever face the type of threats that Dr. King did, mostly because of the sacrifices he was willing to make. So when you find your purpose, don’t fear the opposition. It will always be there, and that has nothing to do with you.
3. Use your support system.
Whenever you see the historical images of Dr. King, he was always surrounded by people that believed in him and shared his vision. One man’s dream is only the beginning, it requires a team to make things happen. He had levels of support and different relationships with the people in his support system. Understand that you can’t trust everyone with everything, but you also can’t achieve what you need to alone. There’s actually a great article by Brandy Harrison about how she’s opened up her circle.
4. Live what you speak.
Dr. King, Jr. preached and taught a message of peace and love. His life was truly reflective of that as well. Though like any person, I’m sure he had times when he wasn’t the most peaceful or loving, but overall, when you look at his life… he lived what he taught. Its so important for us all to learn how to have more integrity and congruence in our lives. In the world of social media, camera phones, and an excessive desire to be seen and popular, your message can easily be lost by your “offline” activities. Just remember, that when you are truly living a purposeful life, every moment of every day is an opportunity to get your message out.
5. See it to the end.
Dr. King believed in what he was doing. He knew that there was substantial risk for him and his family in speaking against the hatred and racism that was running rampant in the US at the time. He also knew the significance and importance of his purpose, and that was worth the risk to him. In the end, his dream cost him his life… but it was also the catalyst to so much of the change he desired to see. Its guaranteed that there will be days when you don’t know if what you are working toward will be successful. You don’t know if you’ll be successful or if you’ll fail. See it to the end. You never know if your real impact and blessing is in your preparation, in your journey, or in your destination. Don’t quit, and see it to the end.
As you go about your day, please stop and remember that you too will one day leave a legacy. Its up to you what that legacy is.