The Civil Rights Movement by Martin Luther King

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While it is saddening to see violence across the United States from the blacks and mixed races over police brutality, the scenes have been witnessed since time immemorial. Growing up during the era of racism and segregation against African-Americans, Luther King Jr. rose to become an exemplary and oratory civil rights leader of the 21st century. He was a commendable man who had an incredible passion for humanity and insurmountable hope for equality for all and pioneered the rights of people across all races (Betts). In addition, he became the voice of reason for all movements in the US by emphasizing the importance of peace and nonviolent protest. This paper highlights how Dr. King championed the watershed events leading to landmark legislation such as voting and civil rights while becoming an example of perseverance even when his life was threatened.

Martin Luther Jr.’s Biography

Born on January 15th, 1929, Dr. Martin Luther Jr.’s family had a long history of pastors. His grandfather led the Atlanta Ebenezer Baptist Church between 1914 and 1931 as the father became a pastor after that period until 1960 while Jr. lead till 1968 when he died (Nobel Prize. org). He attended a segregated school in Georgia and graduated at 15 years of age from high school before proceeding to Morehouse; a Negro college in Atlanta graduating in 1948 with a B.A. Further, he enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary and became a president of a predominantly white class, and thereafter awarded a B.D in 1951(Nobel Prize. org). In addition, he had won a fellowship from the aforementioned college enabling him to enroll in Boston University for graduate studies where he completed the residency for his doctorate and received a degree in 1953 and 1955 respectively. While in University, he met Coretta Scott who he married, siring two daughters and sons after settling in Montgomery where he became the Dexter Baptist Church pastor.

As a prolific and outstanding advocate for equality, he pioneered in the legislation of the Voting and Civil Rights Acts and received a Noble Peace Prize award in 1964 ( Editors). However, on April 4, 1968, he was shot in Memphis Tennessee as he was preparing a protest with city garbage workers on strike. As a result of his achievements and impact, he is remembered annually in the U.S holidays; Martin Luther Jr. Day.

Martin Luther King’s Impact on Society and Perseverance

There are numerous instances where Martin Luther Jr. was not only instrumental in bringing change across the US but also his life and activities left a legacy observed to the present day. Perhaps his influence in society can be traced from 1954 when he became the pastor of the Baptist church in Alabama. As an advocate for equal rights for the minorities, he became a member of the Colored People Advancement National Association executive committee; a leading organization for civil rights in the United States (Nobel Prize. org). Moreover, in 1955 he led the first African-American nonviolent demonstration during the bus boycott that lasted for more than a year. As a result, in December 1956 the US Supreme Court declared the bus segregation laws unconstitutional leading to blacks and whites riding together as equals (Nobel Prize. org). However, during the go-slow that lasted for 382 days, King was subjected to atrocities such as arrests, personal abuse, and the bombing of his house but he emerged as a leader with a spirit for equality.

Similarly, in 1957 he led the Southern Leadership Conference as the president of the Christian outfit for the civil rights movement which borrowed its operational techniques and ideals from Gandhi and Christianity respectively. Further, from 1957 to 1968 he wrote five books and numerous articles, spoke more than 25 times, and traveled over 6 million miles (Nobel Prize. org). During that time, he initiated change in society through numerous massive protests across various cities in the United States. For instance, the peaceful resistance in Birmingham Alabama caught the world’s attention hence leading to self-awareness and coalition of the conscience. King did not fear to continue inspiring the people regardless of his predicament and the circumstances during the time. As such, he wrote a letter from jail which was a manifestation of the black people awakening.

Furthermore, in Alabama, people of color were registered as voters as a result of his relentless fight for voting rights for African-Americans. In addition, a peaceful match saw two hundred and fifty thousand people attending in Washington D.C where he delivered his famous speech, “I Have a Dream” where he stressed equality. On the other hand, he was assaulted 4 times and arrested more than 20 times (Nobel However, his courage, perseverance, and determination led to conferring with presidents and campaigning for them especially John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson respectively.

Through all these, he remained steadfast to defend the weak and marginalized in society. For instance, in 1967 violent and destructive riots were experienced across American cities such as Michigan, Detroit, Newark, and New Jersey (Freeman and Kolozi). The root cause of the aforementioned unrest was police corruption, economic hardship, unemployment, and systematic racial discrimination. Consequently, the Michigan governor used more than eight thousand National Guards while president Johnson provided 4000 officers from the US Army to counter the uprising (Freeman and Kolozi). As a result, forty-three people were killed while seven thousand were arrested. Thereafter, a commission appointed by the president to investigate the cause of civil disorders highlighted poverty and racism as the background to all mayhem witnessed; affirming King’s claims.

Six months later, he led a poverty movement known as, the “poor people campaign” aimed at redressing grievances and securing jobs for all people (Freeman and Kolozi). Looking at the origin of the American malaise, he argued that the national government spent billions of dollars meant for the people. As such, many citizens were denied adequate healthcare, good education, meaningful employment, and decent housing while they were required to be peaceful and responsible (Freeman and Kolozi). Therefore, the federal government had the responsibility not only to provide jobs but also to remove injustices against the poor.

In addition, his campaign highlighted the importance of human freedom. Further, he stressed the need to uphold the Declaration of Independence by pointing out that liberty, life, and pursuit of happiness are unalienable rights for any American (Freeman and Kolozi). Notwithstanding, discrimination and racism became his other main focus as he pointed out that these were evils that bedeviled American society. While advocating for the withdrawal of the US forces from Vietnam, he argued that materialism and militarism were two wrongs since injustice anywhere was a threat to peace everywhere and one’s problem became a concern to everybody (Freeman and Kolozi). Through this, he highlighted the importance of a just society for all people across the world.


In summation, Dr. Martin Luther King is one of the best leaders in the civil society movements to have graced the world. Throughout his life, he advocated for equality, justice, and freedom for all. As such, his profound impact is seen up to the present time with imprints in workers’ unions, voting rights, and the commemoration of his day in the US. Lastly, he endured arrests, humiliation and was killed at a tender age but his work brought tremendous change.

Works Cited

Betts, Jennifer. “What Did Martin Luther King Do for the Civil Rights Movement?” Biography.

Freeman, James, and Peter Kolozi. “Martin Luther King, Jr and America’s 4th Revolution: The Poor People’s Campaign at Fifty.” American Studies Journal, 2018. Editors. “Martin Luther King, Jr.” HISTORY, 2022.

Nobel Prize. Org. “The Nobel Peace Prize 1964. Martin Luther King Jr. Biographical” Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022.

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