Who is capable of changing the world? Is it politicians, businessmen, individuals, artists, journalists? My answer to that question is people. I believe in the power of organized and active citizens. The ones who acknowledge the power of crowds and find ways to mobilize them have always achieved to lead -be it good or bad- the change.
Reading about Martin Luther King’s life as a nonprofit professional, these are the main highlights caught my attention;
- Dream: The essence of change is to dream about a vision and we all need to question things to develop a vision. I was not surprised when I read that King was skeptical of many of Christianity’s claims when he was young.
- Learn, think, and reflect: Martin Luther King knew how to address crowds, but more importantly he knew what he was talking about. He visited India to learn from Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent civil disobedience and he successfully implemented similar tactics during the civil rights campaigns.
- Act strategic and pragmatic: You might have a good plan, know-how and tools but all these cannot guarantee the success. You need to be strategic and pragmatic about when, where, and with whom to take action. King looked into a case exactly like Rosa Parks* months before in 1955, but the civil rights leaders including King decided not to start a campaign as Claudette Colvin was pregnant and unmarried! In an interview in 2009, Colvin said Parks had the right hair and the right look. She added that “Her skin texture was the kind that people associate with the middle class. She fit that profile.”**
- Communicate your cause: Once you make sure you have an attractive story (or scene) and eliminated all the risk factors, you are ready to communicate your cause to a wider public. As the above story points out, King had a very good understanding of public relations and he knew how to best attract public attention. King and his colleagues selected the cases and designed the campaigns with the utmost care. In his blog post, Ralph E. Hanson, professor of communication at University of Nebraska at Kearney, says “King and his colleagues knew that all the protests in the world would be ineffective if they were not covered by the press, and that being beaten up by police would accomplish little if no photographers were present to document the event.”***
Change cannot start without a dream, but it takes time. It is difficult and tricky. So the question remains: to dream or not to dream?
This article is written by Derya Kaya
*Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white woman as required by law in 1955 and Montgomery Bus Boycott which is one of the turning points of African-American civil rights movement was launched as a response to this incident. She became one of the symbols for the movement.