On January 20th, 2014, the world celebrates a man it only partly knew.

What if I told you that Dr. King was an unheralded economic prophet, and a co-founder of America's third revolution? 

We know his famous speech, I Have A Dream, and we know his legislative successes tied to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. We know some of his books, writings such as the Letter From a Birmingham Jail, and his most famous marches and movement actions. We know his active relationship with two U.S. Presidents. We know his moral authority, and his inspirational leadership. 

And then most of us make a critical mistake, when we begin to talk further about this great man. 

Our first mistake is when we call him a Black Leader, or maybe more generously, the leader for Black America. The fact of the matter is, he actually was not either. 

King was not a Black leader, but a great leader who happened to be Black. On his larger work, King was even more radically inclusive. In Dr. King's own words he said, "the civil rights movement was about redeeming the soul of America, from the triple evils of war, racism and poverty." Or when he went further and said "the movement was about saving Black men's bodies and White men's soul." In other words, we are all in this together.

Dr. King was one of the few (Black) leaders at the time who was talking to white America, not (principally) Black America. Of course, Black America already knew what King was about, and Black America already knew what their own agenda needed to be. 

TIME Magazine had it right when they placed Dr. King on its August 26th, 2013 cover, proclaiming Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to be an American 'Founding Father,' and 'the Architect of the 21st Century.'

Interestingly enough, an architect for a century that he would never live to see himself. To quote my friend and Dr. King's daughter, Rev. Dr. Bernice A. King, CEO of the King Center,"it is quite a leader who mentors people even in death." Quite a leader indeed. 

But there are still critical things either we don't know, or don't completely understand. Important things. 

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John Hope Bryant is the founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and is the only 2010-2012 bestselling business author in America who is also African-American. His newest book, due out May, 2014, is HOW THE POOR CAN SAVE CAPITALISM, and will be published byBerrett Koehler Publishing).


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