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Do you agree that Martin Luther King was the most important factor in helping blacks gain Civil Rights in the 1960s? Explain your answer.

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Introduction

Do you agree that Martin Luther King was the most important factor in helping blacks gain Civil Rights in the 1960s? Explain your answer. This essay aims to show how important Martin Luther King was to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It will achieve this by looking at the situation of black Americans before the Civil Rights movement, Civil Rights gained before Martin Luther King, work done by Martin Luther King and work done by other Civil Rights leaders. The first black Americans were Africans brought to America in the seventeenth century by white settlers to work as slaves. Black people were kept as slaves until in 1863 when President Lincoln declared that all slaves were to be set free in the Emancipation Proclamation. However, slavery was only finally abolished at the end of the war. The south had been devastated by the civil war and to help, Lincoln and the government set up the Freedmen's Bureau to supply food, clothes and medicine to those in the south. The bureau also set up schools to educate ex-slaves. Whites in the south objected to blacks being free and equal so introduced the 'Black Codes' which denied blacks the right to vote, separated them in public places and forbade inter-race marriages. ...read more.

Middle

His only success was in ending segregation in the US armed forces. As this was such a huge organisation it gave blacks some hope and changed many people's way of life. President Eisenhower, like Truman, hated discrimination against the blacks. He appointed liberal minded Earl Warren as Chief justice of the Supreme Court. In 1952 the NAACP brought a case to court challenging the Education Board of Topeka on behalf of a girl called Linda Brown. Linda Brown was a young black girl who had a long and dangerous journey to get to her school rather than attending a nearby whites-only school. Chief Justice Earl Warren announced in favour of Brown and the NAACP saying that segregated education could not be equal. Separate schools were declared illegal and southern states were ordered to set up integrated schools. However, many southern states defied the court's order. The test of the ruling came in 1957 when nine black children tried to enrol in an all-white school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Riots broke out and Governer Faubus ordered the state national guard not to allow the nine pupils to enter the school. ...read more.

Conclusion

King wrote a book called 'Stride Toward Freedom' after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, it described the boycott and King's views on non-violence and peaceful protests. A small group of black students from North Carolina read his book and decided to take action. They started a sit-in in a local store that refused to serve black people. In the days that followed other black people joined them. This form of protest was then copied by many others in the south. Within months of the sit-ins restaurants, lunch counters, parks, churches, libraries and theatres were desegregated. Another thing that martin Luther King encouraged was selective buying. He told blacks to reward companies who were sympathetic to Civil Rights by buying their products. The principle of selective buying was to punish companies who kept their workforces segregated by not buying their goods. King also travelled the country making speeches to encourage people to get involved in the Civil Rights movement. He realised that only a new Civil rights laws would force whites in the south to treat blacks as equals. He campaigned endlessly, in 1957, martin Luther King spoke to a crowd of 40 000 people at a 'freedom march' in Washington. Again, in August 1963, a quarter of a million people marched into Washington to demand a new civil rights law. ...read more.

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