Category: History

Introduction and Overview

Martin Luther King Jr. was a renown leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA from 1950 to 1968, when he was assassinated. Born in 1929, this civil-rights activist and Baptist minister from Atlanta, GA had a seismic influence on the racial relations in the United States. This influence was felt from the mid-1950 and for many years to come. Through his activism and stimulating speeches, King played a key role in stopping the legal separation of African-American individuals in the United States (Alridge 662). He was killed in April 1968. King is still considered one of the most persuasive and motivating African-American leaders in history.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was a renowned civil rights activist and leader whose influence on American society was immense. His robust belief in non-violent demonstrations aided in setting the tempo of the movement. Boycotts, demonstrations, and marches were finally effective, and law was finally implemented against racial discrimination. Kings achievements are numerous. His major accomplishments included being a promoter for the nonviolent demonstration in the Memphis sanitation employee strike, offering leadership in the Montgomery bus embargo of 1955, and inspiring people with the famed "I Have a Dream" speech. King also played a significant part in launching the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, a civil rights agency that reinforced the philosophy of non-violence (Jackson 124). This analysis evaluates the life of Martin Luther King Jr. as a civil rights activist and Baptist leader of the 1950s and 1960s.


In 1968, approximately 1,000 black sanitation employees in Memphis were tired from their terrible workplace conditions, discrimination, and low wages. Moreover, it was evident they were discriminated against when all of them had been released by their respective companies without remuneration, while their white counterparts kept their jobs. Thus, these workers had no other choice than to strike. This situation prompted Martin Luther King to visit Memphis with the aim of offering support for the second march of sanitation employees (Jackson 134). This strike, which that lasted for more than two months from February 12, 1968, became one of the key civil rights events. The goal of the strikers was the elimination of discrimination. They also demanded to raise their wages. Such a situation appealed to the local news media and other activists, who joined the demonstrations, such as society leaders and affiliates of the priesthood (King, Stride Toward Freedom 250). The strike ultimately concluded on April 12, 1968. Thus, the State of Memphis granted the employees demands, despite the fact that more strikes had to be planned to make them accept the agreement.

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In Montgomery, Alabama, King led a boycott against the local bus system that could not allow blacks take seats in the front. This protest attracted numerous followers and resulted in a citywide rejection of the bus system until its regulations were adjusted. King and his followers were incarcerated, but the boycott succeeded and the unfair racist rule permitting the isolation aboard the vehicles was dismissed. This represented a straight-out victory for the civil rights movement of the era and attained national attention (King, Where Do We Go from Here 26). In 1963, King and other heads of the civil rights drive organized a big protest for equal rights in Washington, DC. This attracted a massive crowd of over 200,000 supporters who marched again racial discrimination in the workplace, racial segregation in educational institutions, and they demanded minimum remuneration for all employees (Jackson 140). The march was the largest demonstration in Washington, DCs history. Here, King made his most famed speech I Have a Dream. Martin Luther King was put in prison alongside large numbers of his followers, but this event attracted global attention.

Nonetheless, white and African American clergy criticized King in equal measure for jeopardizing children who participated in these demonstrations. While being imprisoned in Birmingham, this civil rights leader articulately introduced his philosophy of non-violence. He said that peaceful direct action sought to formulate such a crisis and nurture such a rigidity that a community, which had continually rejected the chance of negotiating, was coerced to confront the issue (King, Stride Toward Freedom 300). Thanks to these protests and the speech, American citizens began to increase their pressure on the presidential regime of John F. Kennedy, motivating him to request for civil rights regulations to go through Congress and be accepted at the national level.

Due to his commitment to peace and equality for all, Luther Kings complaints on behalf of civil rights had the ability to make candid headway in American society and permitted him to contribute significantly to the achievements of the civil rights movement. While his persecutors exercised brutality and force, King insisted on peaceful demonstrations. Moreover, he passed this conviction to his followers, which represented a key factor in the acknowledgement and respect to the civil rights movement during the time of unease and unrest in the United States (Alridge 662). His honest desire for the nation to unite was ultimately renowned as a great input to the future of the USA. His premature demise was a loss to many people, and it started a generation of great budding for the country. The African-American Civil Rights Movement lasted from 1955 to 1968 (Jackson 250). The movements major objectives were to eliminate racial discrimination in numerous areas, including public transportation, voting, employment, and education.

King considered love as the means to attaining the equality that he fiercely sought and fought for in American society. The ability to use love, as he believed, was a show of the need for reciprocal attitude by the white-dominated government, and even African Americans deserved the same social treatment, such as in employment and education, as their white compatriots. King accounted how the tool of love had worked by saying that African Americans had achieved self-respect that provided their further drive to push for equality in society (Where Do We Go from Here 28). Eventually, this tool of love appeared to have worked as the white majority increasingly offered their support to the quest for equality and joined the push by African Americans to have equal opportunities in education and employment. King, in fact, had intended that the reciprocation of the love of the oppressed would win the hearts of many opponents, thereby leveraging the push for society that practiced equality (King, Where Do We Go from Here 102). Therefore, the tool of showing love as part of the larger aspect of non-violence helped support the movement for civil equality in the country. Indeed, it appeared to have helped the struggle for civil rights that King defended so fiercely.

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At the same time, King never viewed the challenges, facing the human race, through the lens of single oppressive faction against the other. Instead, he looked at the civil freedom as a goal that required a collective input of both the oppressor and the discriminated. For instance, his quest for quality education, fair wages, and proper housing never leant on the view that African Americans alone were oppressed and Whites only had the solution. Instead, he asserted that every stakeholder in society required the efforts to push towards the right direction. For instance, King maintained that the proper utilization of the strengths that technology created could help the various and diverse members of society live in peace without prejudice and inequality (King, Stride Toward Freedom 247). Poverty, for instance, was viewed by King as a phenomenon that the poor as well as the rich were not committed enough to eradicate. Therefore, he wanted to build society that achieved civil rights through collaborative efforts rather than disjointed approach. Moreover, this view of widening the scope of civil rights by King also aligned with his view of the world poverty. Thus, he believed that the USA was not the only country where the oppressed and poor required help and solutions. Many people in other countries were in the same situation and they wanted the same solutions (King, Where Do We Go from Here 167). Therefore, the widening of the scope of the issue of civil rights had helped King become more conscious of the problem towards proposing and implementing the right solutions.


King employed mainly the approach of non-violence in the fight for civil rights. While this doctrine was highly valued by King, the majority of his followers misinterpreted as weakness before oppressors. Therefore, they resorted to violence in the push for their social rights. In fact, King had to tell the masses repeatedly that non-violence would help them achieve their goal of social equality better than violence. Eventually, people agreed with King and employed the same strategy. This move involved several tools, namely a show of love, the commitment to collaborative approach to civil problems, and a focus on the push for self-drive to attain the goal to both individual and societal levels. Ultimately, the American population succeeded in achieving significant civil rights improvement with Kings leadership in this quest.

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