Martin Luther King Jr – One of the most Influential Ministers and Civil Rights Activist
Martin Luther King Jr is one of the most influential ministers and civil rights activists who has had a huge impact on the world today. He repelled the US war in Vietnam, supported countless workers on strike, and demanded economic justice for homeless Americans, no matter the race. To this day MLK is best known for his leadership in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his assassination in 1968. America remembers MLK by having a holiday named after him and the ringing of the bells in Los Angeles around the time that he was shot to honor the legend for all that he has done. Martin Luther King Jr left some life changing effects that can still be seen in today’s society mainly consisting of his nonviolent protest, his famous Speeches and Marches, and most of all his bravery and perseverance.
For many years slavery has existed throughout the United States, mainly in the South. Although after the civil war things started to become worse for all blacks and the black community. Jim Crow Laws were created in the South to segregate the white from the blacks because they believed that blacks were dirty because they used to be slaves and were not fit to have all that they had. In the South tons of public places and transportation started to become segregated; for example bathrooms, drinking fountains, railroad cars, hotels, schools, and restaurants were all labeled as whites or colored. These laws were enforced by all authorities to be followed unless blacks wanted to be jailed or beaten/stoned. Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board are two of the top Supreme Court cases that argued against segregation. The Plessy v. Ferguson case became the origin of the “”separate but equal principle of racial segregation laws. This case led to more segregation laws across the South and in other states as well. The South plus other states did not make it easy for the black community to vote. They introduced poll taxes which made it hard for most blacks to vote since they were not working and plus also the literacy test. Brown v. Board also challenges the segregation in schools. This case was known as the turning point in history for the blacks and created equal opportunity in the education system for everyone.
Brown v. Board may have created equal opportunity in education, but segregation still existed in the South and other states. Blacks tried to fight segregation in many ways, especially through different organizations like the National Association of the Advancement of Colored Peoples (NAACP), which was founded in 1909. Martin Luther King Jr soon later joined the NAACP when he first got to Montgomery and saw that the city was highly segregated. He then led the association through a nonviolent protest that they called the Montgomery Bus Boycott when one of their own members Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her sit at the front of the bus to a white man. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a 13 month civil right protest during which blacks refused to ride city buses in Montgomery, Alabama to protest segregated seating. The boycott lasted from December 5,1955 and ended December 20, 1956 with the U.S Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional.
With the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Martin Luther King and several other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), on January 10, 1957. The SCLC led nonviolent sit-ins at lunch counters in order to nonviolently “”end segregation and disenfranchisement of black voters. Even though the protesters tried to remain calm, there patience were tempted by food and drinks being thrown on their head, being spat on, had abusive words being thrown at them, and also went through a whole lot of violence from racist whites and violent authorities. During these protests held together by the SCLC , MLK was arrested multiple times and this is how his popularity grew rapidly.
Another of Martin Luther King’s influences was through the Birmingham Campaign. The campaign was another movement led in the early 1963 by the SCLC which wanted to bring national attention of the efforts of local black leaders to desegregate public facilities in Birmingham, Alabama. Martin Luther King and others led this campaign and joined Birmingham’s local campaign organized by Rev. Shuttlesworth and his group, the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) so they could all get their messages across. The campaign was launched with mass meetings, lunch counter sit-ins, and a boycott of downtown merchants. King then advised to try more nonviolent protests so they also did kneel-in at churches, sit-ins at the library, and a march on the county courthouse to register voters. King was then later arrested in 1963 in Birmingham after violating the anti-protest injunction and was placed on solitary confinement. While in jail he wrote “”Letter from Birmingham Jail which defended his views on racial justice and nonviolence.
“”I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. (Letter from Birmingham Jail)
The letter then went viral and further inspired black Americans to join the cause. The Birmingham Campaign went on later to become a success. Americans today now follow MLK’s nonviolent protest whenever they wanted to get there point across to the government.
MLK’s famous speeches and marches also left some effects that can still be seen in today’s society like the famous march MLK’s “”March on Washington. The March on Washington was a huge protest march that occured in August 1963, when 250,000 people, black and white, gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to march for jobs and freedom. The goal of the march was to draw attention to continuing challenges and inequalities faced by African Americans. A. Philip Randolph, founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, first called for a march on Washington D.C. to draw attention to the removal of African Americans from positions in the national defense industry. The march was then cancelled when President Roosevelt came up with a compromise to mandate the formation of the Fair Employment Practices Commission to investigate racial discrimination charges against defense firms. Randolph then started up the march again because of the high levels of black unemployment and convinced MLK and the members of the SCLC and other organizations to join the protest. The March on Washington was where Martin Luther King delivered his very famous and touching “”I Have A Dream speech. This televised nationwide speech touched the heart of many people, both black and white.
“” I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “” We hold these truths to be self- evident: that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. (“” I Have A Dream)
Americans are still trying to live by that speech today and making possible of King’s vision of a truly free and just society.
In today’s society, we still recognize Martin Luther King Jr’s Bravery and Perseverance. He stood up for his beliefs that “”all men are created equal and fought for the civil rights of many African Americans. MLK inspired people all around the world with a message of “”peaceful resistance and racial equality. He also helped Americans to have the courage to do whatever they wanted and to not be afraid of the obstacles that they will have to face because in the end victory is what matters. One other important thing that all Americans remember about MLK was that he showed moral courage and never gave up even when times got hard and it seemed like all hope was lost, he still never gave up but had faith and hope that one day all his hard work will always and forever be remembered.
Martin Luther King Jr left some life changing effects that can still be seen in today’s society, mainly consisting of his nonviolent protest, his famous Speeches and Marches, and most of all his bravery and perseverance.
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