A large part of the reason Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was so effective was because he gave hope. In the below conclusion of a speech he gave in Memphis, Dr. King assures his audience that they truly will get to the "promised land."
As leaders, the question before us today is, "How will we encourage people with the hope that racism will end?"
Dr. Martin Luther King's most famous speech was unquestionably his, "I Have a Dream," speech. Yet, it surely was not his only great speech. The speech Dr. King gave the night before he was murdered was also an incredible example of how leaders move people by their speaking. You can listen or read the entire speech.
In this speech, when Dr. King said, "I have been to the mountaintop," his biblically literate audience he immediately knew what he meant. Dr. King was comparing his leadership to that of Moses, the great Old Testament leader who led God's people out of slavery and to the Promised Land. Moses was not permitted to go into the Promised Land. But he was allowed to go to the mountaintop and see it (Deuteronomy 34:1-7). Likewise, Dr. King knew that there was a strong possibility he would be killed before the Civil Rights Movement had achieved its goals. But surely the end was in sight.
The clip is less than 3 minutes long. Yet in it we see many of the reasons Dr. King was so effective as a leader. Above all, Dr. King gave hope. After his audience heard Dr. King review all the progress that had been made, they were sure they would get to the Promised Land.
For more reflections on this speech, see Chris Brauns's post: Leadership Lessons from Dr. King.