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Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential people in the Civil Rights Movement. To this day he continues to inspire millions. Unfortunately he was assassinated on April 4, 1968 by James Earl Ray. However, before his death, King led peaceful marches and rallies to end segregation, gave several speeches, and inspired many people. He and his wife, Coretta Scott King, had four children, Martin Luther King Ⅲ, Yolanda King, Bernice King, and Dexter King. His oldest daughter, Yolanda, died in 2007 from a heart attack. The rest of King’s children remain alive in various parts of the country. His oldest son, King Ⅲ, follows in his footsteps as a human rights activist, and his daughter, Bernice King, follows in her father’s footsteps as a minister. 

Ten of his major accomplishments include: leading the Montgomery bus boycott, being the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), leading the Birmingham campaign, being a crucial role in organizing the great march on Washington, writing a speech that intensified the civil rights movement, being Time Magazine’s man of the year in 1963, being behind African Americans’ getting basic civil rights, becoming the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, achieving great success using non-violent methods of protest, and becoming the symbolic leader of African Americans. Due to his many achievements in his life, he helped end segregation and get African Americans the rights that they deserved.

The Montgomery bus boycott lasted 385 days, over a year long. It was in protest to the mistreatment of Rosa Parks. Mrs. Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her bus seat for a white person. In response E.D Nixon planned a boycott, which was led by King. Due to his involvement in the Montgomery bus boycott, King was arrested, his home bombed, and subjected to personal abuse and threats. On December 20, 1956 the US Supreme court ruled that segregation on public transportation was unconstitutional, ultimately ending the boycott.

The SCLC was founded in 1957 and inspired by the Montgomery bus boycott. King was the president of this organization until his death in 1968. This organization had a large role in the Civil Rights Movement. 

Birmingham was one of the most racially divided cities in the US until the 1960’s. Both legal and cultural discrimination fell upon the black citizens of Birmingham. The Birmingham Campaign was a movement in early 1963 created by King to fight against the discrimination against black citizens. Children and teen students were recruited for the campaign after it ran low on adult volunteers. After Eugene “Bull” Conner, from the Birmingham Police Department, used high-pressure water jets and police attack dogs on the group, the campaign gained nationwide attention. Once Conner lost his job and the municipal government changed the city’s discriminatory laws, the movement was ended.

King was one of the leaders of the “Big Six”, a civil rights organization who organized the Washington March for Jobs and Freedom, which took place on August 28. 1963. With over 250,000 participants, it was a major success, and became one of the largest political rallies for human rights in US history. It laid the stepping stone to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and motivated many other marches.

Martin Luther King delivered his famous speech “I Have a Dream” during the March on Washington, to over 250,000 people from the steps of Lincoln Memorial. King departed from written text at Mahalia Jackson’s cry: “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” Then began to describe a dream he had for America. This became the most famous part of the speech. Considered the defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement, in a 1999 poll of scholars it was ranked the top American speech.

In the January 1964 issue of Time magazine, King was named “Man of The Year” for 1963 and recognized as a fearless leader who fought for equality in America. As the first African American recipient of this honor, Martin saw it as both a personal honor and a tribute to the Civil Rights Movement.

King led and organized many marches for causes such as the voting rights of blacks, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights. His efforts were rewarded in 1964 and 1965, with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. When these acts were passed, most of these rights were enforced.

King became a non-violent activist after being inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s success. He began to understand non-violent resistance better during his trips to India, and believed this was the way to achieve civil rights for black Americans. He became very successful in achieving his goals through civil obedience and similar practices. Due to this, non-violent methods of protest became a stature in the world.

From 1957 until his assassination in 1968, King appeared wherever there was injustice, speaking over twenty-five hundred times and traveling over six million miles. He wrote five books, several articles, and led a number of protests. As the symbolic leader of African Americans, he was renowned worldwide.

These are only some of the many amazing things Martin Luther King Jr. did. Without King, the Civil Rights movement may never have been as successful as it was. In all respects, King was one of the most influential participants of the Civil Rights movement. King is and will always be an idol to those who want to change the world for the better.

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Martin Luther King Jr.