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Essay: Did Martin Luther King Really End Segregation? Exploring the Contributions of Key Figures

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Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister well known for his contribution to the Civil Rights Movement. He is famous for his “I have a Dream” speech, on August 28, 1963, and was deeply inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. But did he really contribute that much to the end of segregation of black people? There are a few other iconic characters, such as Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and Little Rock High School. The assassination of Martin Luther King made a significant effect on segregation, and soon after his death, discrimination of the black race started to diminish rapidly. But did he really make a large difference?

The civil rights movement was an attempt by black people to gain social, political, and economic equality with white people. It started to succeed in the 1950’s.

Martin Luther King is said to have been the king of the Civil Rights Movement as he was perhaps one of the only people who led such a large protest as the march on Washington. He made the speech “I have a Dream”, which was a 16-minute speech which may have had a very large effect on segregation between blacks and whites. Probably the thing which made this speech significant, and of Martin Luther King himself, is that he did not use violence in any part of his action at all, and he stuck to the power of words to influence the direction of society. In the South, segregation was enforced and black and white people were completely separated in society. Martin Luther King played a big role by the bus boycott he led, where the whole African American community was told to boycott the buses and the black people walked everywhere instead, and so the white community had to really react to this as the buses were not getting enough passengers. This may be one of the many reasons why Martin Luther King may be considered the king of the Civil Rights Movement. But how about the others?

The Little Rock Nine was a group of nine African-American students in Little Rock Central High School, in 1957. The school was originally racially segregated, and so they were initially prevented from entering the school. On the first day of school, a crowd of angry white people pushed them away from the school as they tried to enter. They attended after the American President Eisenhower sent the United States Army to let them into the school. This is thought to be a very important event in the Civil Rights Movement, even though it is not that well-known. They were not even adults yet, which makes their actions significant and brave.

Rosa Parks was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement. In the 1950s and 1960s, black people and white people sat in different parts of a bus, and were completely separated. White people, when the white section was full, had a priority over black people in the black section. This had happened to Rosa Parks, who was most famous for refusing to obey the order of a bus driver, James F. Blake, to give up her seat in the coloured section of a bus (at the time there were two sections; coloured and white), after the section for white people was filled. She had stood up for equality of black and white people, and this was a very big step towards abolition of segregation. Also, she was a woman, which was also another weak position in society at the time, which shows her courage in doing this. She played the main role in the bus boycott led by Martin Luther King, and, he might have been much less famous without her presence.

Malcolm X was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist. His parents once told him to be proud of the colour of his skin, even though he was living in an openly anti-black society. His father had incredibly dark skin whilst his mother had extremely light skin. He was a black supremacist, and this is very rare in the whole of history.

Did Martin Luther King really say his own opinions? I personally think that he wanted to say exactly the same thing as Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Little Rock Nine, and many others, and that it is just that he managed to give the largest effect on America and the world, and that it was his actions which makes him very famous.

To summarise, Martin Luther King was not the king of the Civil Rights Movement, as, even though he has contributed a lot, including the march of Washington, and his “I have a Dream” speech, the contribution of others largely helped with his success and fame as the “king” of the Civil Rights Movement. Without the help of Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Little Rock Nine, and other key black members, black segregation may never have been abolished. Although he got assassinated himself, many others had also been assassinated, such as Malcolm X, and also should be respected equally.

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