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Essay: Martin Luther King Jr. King – Civil Rights Activist

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The United States of America has witnessed many harsh past memories. From slavery until the time it was abolished, and from segregation to the civil rights movement. One of the most known heroes of the civil rights movement is the great Martin Luther King Jr. King was a civil rights activist and had a seismic impact on race relations in the United States. Martin Luther King Jr. played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African- American citizens in the South and other areas of the nation.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. As he grew up in Atlanta, Georgia he entered public school. He had a prestigious high school career; attended Booker T. Washington High School, and skipped both ninth and eleventh grades that led him to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta at age fifteen. King graduated with a sociology degree, but as he attended college he rebelled against the rules of his father and society as well. His father a conservative minister would find his weekly beer and playing pool unacceptable, while also having an affair with a white woman.

 Although Martin’s rough patch he came under the influence of Benjamin E. Mays who had an impact on his spiritual development. Mays was an outspoken advocate for racial and equality acts, and encouraged King to view Christianity as a force for social change. Martin Luther King Jr. journey as a civil rights activist was about to begin during the well-known Civil Rights Movement.

In 1955 Rosa Parks, another face of difference began the notion of change. Rosa Parks sat in the first row of the colored section in the middle of the bus. Although she was in the right to be seated, excess white people boarded the transit and demanded her to stand up for them to sit down. Parks refuses to give up her right, ad was arrested and booked for violating Montgomery City Code. This was the perfect opportunity the NAACP was looking for to challenge Montgomery’s laws.

The NAACP chapter leader E.D Nixon met King the night of to plan a citywide bus boycott. He was a new face to the community so it was felt he would have strong credibility with the black community. King was elected to lead the boycott for the reasons that he was young, well trained and holds a well professional standing. He put a fresh speechifying into the civil rights struggle in Alabama. In one of his first speech King declared, “We have no alternative but to protest.”

The protestors continuously showed peaceful protest, and mass amounts of patience. The bus boycott took 382 days of walking to work, harassment, and violence for the African-American community. To commit to such a challenge it took dedication, persistence and passion. Kings home was attacked a number of times, but action continued to take place. The African-American community took legal action against the city law that it is based on unconstitutional acts based on the Supreme Court’s “separate is never equal” decision in Brown vs. Board of Education. The city of Montgomery soon lifted the law mandating segregated public transportation.

After the victory Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders coordinated a national organization to help coordinate their civil rights efforts. In January of 1957 King and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christians Leadership conference to organize the power of black churches. The activists would conduct non-violent protests to promote civil rights reform. King’s leadership in this organization gave him a base of operation throughout the South. The organization began by giving a voice to the African Americans and empowered them in the voting process. By February of 1958 the SCLC sponsors more than 20 mass meetings in key southern cities to register black voters in the South.

In 1959 Martin Luther King Jr. visited Gandhi’s birthplace in India. This trip affected him profoundly, heavily increasing his commitment to the civil rights struggle. He’s adopted Gandhi’s non-violent activism. Bayard Rustin, another activist became one of King’s successors and counseled him to dedicate himself to the principles of non-violence. Rustin soon became his mentor and advisor and a main organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. Peaceful protests took mass amounts of training and faith to accomplish.

In February of 1960, the famous Greensboro sit-in took place, where a group of African American students began to sit at a segregated lunch counter. They were rejected service and in many instances verbally and physically abused. The students remained peaceful and allowed any abuse come their way. Martin Luther King encouraged students to continue to use nonviolent methods during their protests. The students continued to work closely with the SCLC and by August of 1960, the sit-ins had been successful in ending segregated lunch counters in about 27 southern cities.

Martin Luther King Jr. was gaining national infamy. He returned to Atlanta by 1960 where he continued his civil rights efforts. At one of Atlanta’s local lunch counter King and 75 students were arrested for requesting service. Although they were released based on the terms of the city’s reputation, King was arrested for violating probation grounded on a traffic violation. The news of this harsh treatment, candidate John F. Kennedy expressed his concern and soon King was released.

In the spring of 1963 the famous “I have a dream” speech by Mister King was spoken. “I have a dream, that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” (Martin Luther King Jr. August 28, 1963). This speech resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 authorizing the federal government to enforce desegregation of public accommodations and outlawing discrimination in publicly owned facilities. It also led to King receiving the Nobel Peace Prize of 1964.

Martin Luther King Jr. struggled throughout the 1960s ending desegregation throughout the South. Throughout the late 1960s King expanded his Civil Rights Movement to larger US cities. Unfortunately his non-violent approach and appeal was seemed powerless to the white middle-class citizens and black militants became alienated. By 1968 King had grew tired of marches, being imprisoned, and living under constant death threats. On April 3 1968 King announced to his supporters, “I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” The next Day Martin Luther King Jr. was shot by a snipers bullet standing on the balcony at the Larraine Motel.

April 4th 1968 was the Martin Luther King Jr.’s last day. He accomplished and helped more then most. He was there for his people spreading non-violent protest techniques, and setting the Civil Rights Movement Act. He won the noble peace prize and died a hero. He played a pivotal role in ending legal segregation throughout the South and had his legacy live on ever since.

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