• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Describe the role of Martin Luther King in Civil Rights activity in the USA during the years up to 1968.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Describe the role of Martin Luther King in Civil Rights activity in the USA during the years up to 1968. Thanks to the miracle of television, Martin Luther King is remembered as an inspirational speaker, whose leadership seemed rooted in oratory. King spoke to, and for, black Americans, and their increasing challenge to white oppression sprang from hearing his non-violent call to arms. When he died, this non-violent movement seemed unable to continue without him, and this deepened the assumption that he was the essential leader. However, what was his actual role during the movement? Was he a leader, who planned each step of the marches, or a spokesperson who took the praise for the work of others behind the scenes? The Montgomery Bus Boycott was King's first experience as a figurehead for a campaign. His serious demeanour and constant appeal to Christian brotherhood and American idealism made a positive impression on whites outside the south. Incidents of violence against black protesters, including the bombing of King's home, focused media attention on Montgomery. In February 1956 an attorney for the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) of which King was President, filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking an injunction against Montgomery's segregated seating practices. ...read more.

Middle

They were not disappointed. Eugene 'Bull' Connor ordered that police officers with dogs and high pressure water hoses were to be used against the protesters. Scenes of the young people being attacked by dogs and pinned against walls by water were shown around the world. During the protest King was arrested and wrote a letter from his jail cell to ministers who had criticised him for creating disorder in their city. His 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' which said that individuals had the moral right and responsibility to disobey unjust laws, was widely read and increased his standing as a moral leader. The years between 1963 and 1965 represented the high point of King's career. In august 1963 the civil rights movement staged its largest gathering ever, with as many as 250, 000 participants (20% of which were white) marching on Washington for jobs and freedom. King's 'I Have a Dream' speech was the most memorable event of the day and confirmed him as black America's most prominent spokesperson. In 1964 Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. However this good time was not to continue. Full of his success in the south, King decided to try his luck in the northern states of the USA and focused on Chicago. ...read more.

Conclusion

95% of black southerners saw King as the most effective spokesperson. Rufus Lewis, chair of the Montgomery bus boycott steering committee said that Kings greatest contribution was his, 'interpreting the situation to the mass of the people'. However he did not initiate the black protest, or the bus boycott in Montgomery. He was involved in only a handful of the thousands of protests across the Southern states, many of which were sparked off by students. Overall, there were many leaders of the Civil Rights struggle, but Martin Luther King was more than just the most conspicuous of them, and more than just and eloquent speaker. His non-violence inspired some support, but it also appealed to neutrals in a way that negated more conservative voices. From the outset of his career in Montgomery in 1955, right through to his death in 1968, King had a remarkable ability to get people who would otherwise be constantly feuding to work together. No one matched his leadership of targeted, orchestrated campaigns that strengthened national political strategy. After 1965 his ideas may have been challenged more but he continued to campaign for peace and justice. Made famous by a movement which was opposed by many, he is still the only Black American to be commemorated with a national holiday, on the third Monday of January. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE USA 1941-80 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE USA 1941-80 essays

  1. How effective a leader was Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights campaign?

    However, the protest and marches were not all peaceful and there was violence between whites and blacks, this undermined Martin Luther King's stance of non-violent protest and his job to lead non-violent protest, because his greatest victory had needed violence.

  2. "The movement made Martin rather than Martin making the movement." How far was King's ...

    Following the dormancy of the movement as a result of SCLC's ineffectiveness, the revived use of 'sit-ins' in Greensboro during 1960 re-ignited the Civil Rights movement. The initiative of four college students spread throughout the South and resulted in desegregation of many Atlanta's schools and stores.

  1. What role did Martin Luther Kings play in the Montgomery bus boycott?

    was formed and King was elected its president. The main advantage of having King as the president was the fact that he was new to Montgomery. Rosa Parks recalled, "He hadn't been there long enough to make any strong friends or enemies."

  2. What was the contribution of Martin Luther King to the civil rights movement?

    When King heard of the events on March 7, 1965, Bloody Sunday, he called for another march on City Hall. They were stopped again by the state troopers, and to avoid arrest King and marchers knelt and prayed. As a peace hero, King fought his oppressors with a higher conscience.

  1. Why was Martin Luther King both so bitterly criticised, and so deeply mourned by ...

    Another example of why King was named a 'glory seeker' occurred in Montgomery in 1958 King was arrested for loitering. During the next two days, the national press corps poured into town. Rather than pay a fine for loitering, King was intent on serving his 14-day jail sentence.

  2. The USA 1941 - 80 : The Divided Union.

    * His two key bills of 1961, the Medicare Bill and the Education Bill both failed to get through the Congress and never became law. * These bills were blocked by Senators from JFK's own Democratic Party, opposed to his civil rights reform and his 'liberal' attitude to education and medical care.

  1. Dr. Martin Luther King's Letter From a Birmingham Jail is one of the most ...

    it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are)

  2. Do you agree that Martin Luther King was the most important factor in helping ...

    the huge March on Washington in 1963 In the first half of this century like many other southern cities Montgomery in Alabama, was strictly segregated. It was this time that Rosa Parks grown up. Rosa Parks mother was a schoolteacher, and she taught Rosa until the age of eleven, when she went to Montgomery Industrial School for Girls.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work