The Impact of Martin Luther King Jr. …



I’m just completing a trip to Dallas, Texas to visit venues for the 2022 IREM Global Summit. On January 16th, the Sunday before MLK Day, we visited Dealey Plaza, the site of the JFK Assassination … which stirs up a lot of emotions in me relating back to the ‘60s.

President Kennedy was 46 years old when he was killed in November, 1963. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only 39 (a Millennial by today’s standards) when he killed less than five years later in April, 1968.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was 34 when he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 … to 250,000 people. I’m awed when I think what it took for him to do that. And he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 … he was just 35 years old.

Leadership requires altitude. It requires viewing the world through the lens of “we” and not just “me”.  It requires putting the needs of others in front of you own personal needs.

When people say we’ve never experienced anything like the turmoil we are seeing today, I really don’t know about that. Today I am at the site of Kennedy’s Assassination and am reminded of some of the challenges we faced in the 1,036 days he served as President … Vietnam; The Bay of Pigs; The Freedom Riders; The Cuban Missile Crisis; and of course, that fateful day of November 22, 1963 …

Our country’s history can be (and very often is) told through the various episodes of turmoil we’ve survived. This country was founded in turmoil. And it’s never been just about what we are facing … but it’s always been about how we’ve faced it.

I’m left with this thought. We have survived and thrived through what seemed to be insurmountable challenges. That’s part of who and what we are as Americans. As individuals we have a choice; we can either widen the chasms we are facing, or we can build bridges to get over them. I choose to build bridges.

Monday, January 18th we celebrate MLK Day … a great opportunity to reflect upon those who came before us; and to be inspired by what they did and what they stood for … to move the needle forward in hopes of making the world better tomorrow than it is today.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the MLK Memorial in Washington, D.C. you really should. It’s an amazing and inspiring place.

Barry Blanton


“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”


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