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Guiding Principles of Dr. Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali

Guiding Principles of Dr. Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali

Dr. Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali, two iconic figures in American history, share birthdays two days apart: January 15th for Dr. King and January 17th for Muhammad Ali. Each man stood majestically for core principles that would change the world for the better. Those core values are worthy of our attention and collective implementation today.

I begin with six of Dr. King’s principles on nonviolence that he shared with his followers. Dr. King drew these principles and others that he embraced from his understanding and appreciation of Mahatma Gandhi’s life of service deeply rooted in the ideals of nonviolence.

Principle 1. Learn as much as you can about the problems around you and talk with those directly impacted by that problem.

Principle 2. Educate others so that they will understand the problems in society. That’s your duty.

Principle 3. Stay committed; understand that you will face criticism and obstacles as you work to inspire others.

Principle 4. Do you best to negotiate peacefully, talking with those who are both pro and con and using grace, humor, and intelligence to foster solutions between those oppressed and those oppressing.

Principle 5. Take action peacefully.

Principle 6. Reconcile; keep all actions peaceful and constructive.

I submit to you that these principles are just as valid today as they were during the turmoil of the civil rights movement. Today, the battle is for social justice and elimination of racism, inequity, and unchecked gun violence.

Now, I share the six core principles shared passionately by Muhammad Ali.

Principle 1. Respect. Ali believed that respect was a prime lever for compassion and empathy if he was to be the ultimate athlete-humanitarian that he became.

Principle 2. Confidence. Ali believed confidence is essential to defending and taking stands for social justice and human rights causes. Ali manifested confidence both loudly and softly in service of causes that mattered.

Principle 3. Conviction. Ali displayed a deep level of conviction for his beliefs and causes. Ali believed that conviction was essential to making the world a better place.

Principle 4. Dedication. In order to achieve the highest standard of excellence and achievement one must manifest conviction and true belief in a cause. Ali was the consummate athlete-activist dedicated to winning and serving. It was his long-term commitment.

Principle 5. Spirituality. Even as a warrior in the boxing ring, Ali also was fully conscious that spirituality was important. He sought inner peace and was mindful of his purpose to fully connect and engage with the world.

Principle 6. Giving/Service. Ali was a well-known benefactor in his role as athlete and humanitarian. He once said, “Service is the rent we pay for our room here on earth.”

I close by encouraging all of us who appreciate and acknowledge the works of these two great men to consider the application of their principles to our lives and to the work that we do. Let’s imagine how different the world would be if our efforts might be anchored to them. The lives lived by King and Ali can never be replicated, but they can serve as beacons in a world in need of peace, love, and hope.

Read companion blog:
Dr. Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali: Their Footprints Guided My Footsteps

Learn about COSEBOC’s Professional Development Course:
Footprints and Footsteps