One of the most remarkable aspects of King was his keen emotional intelligence. Had he decided to lead a violent movement, he would have been playing into hundreds of years of stereotypes of the dangerous black. Though such a revolution may have been successful, it would have undoubtedly ended in hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths for both blacks and whites. Instead, King had an acute social awareness. He seemed to instinctively understand that, while many people were revolted by the innate violence and hatred in a system of segregation, they still feared the potential violence of a Civil Rights Movement. Therefore, King worked hard to ensure that his followers would remain peaceful, at all costs. This acute emotional intelligence was very helpful in his movement. When images of the police using fire hoses and police dogs against children were played nationwide, it helped sway the sympathies of many who had previously believed that segregation was a relatively harmless institution.
Had those blacks been attackers rather than victims, the national sentiment would not have been in their favor.
In fact, it was this moral leadership that differentiated King from the other great leaders of his time. One of Kings trademarks was his ability to be a great, moral leader and to lead with peaceful ways as opposed to causing a stir with machinations of violence. He went to India and learned Gandhis principle of nonviolent persuasion (tenets he carried with him the rest of his life). This became Kings chief instrument of social protest. All of his protests were peaceful and intelligently created. He did not wish — ever — to harm others in his protests and this was one of the most admirable aspects of Dr. Kings work..