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

"The movement made Martin rather than Martin making the movement." How far was King's role in the Civil Rights Movement essential to its success?

Extracts from this document...


"The movement made Martin rather than Martin making the movement." How far was King's role in the Civil Rights Movement essential to its success? "Martin Luther King is one of America's most controversial figures."1 Contemporary and modern historians are "bitterly divided in their assessment of him"1, and the extent to which his words and actions contributed to the betterment of black Civil Rights. Anthony Badger maintains that: "no person was more important"6 than King, a view popularly held by those outside the movement throughout the 20th century; whilst Ella Baker controversially claimed: "the movement made Martin"3, representing opposition to the traditional idea that King was a "saintly figure to many."1 Primarily it is the notion that "King was led rather than leading"1, causing debate over whether a Martin Luther King myth has been allowed to evolve. Though, once more counter-argument suggests "the wisdom of his strategy and tactics"1 to be his significant contribution to the movement. ...read more.


Yet "similar boycotts in other cities met with little success", and also "the MIA was largely ineffective in challenging other forms of discrimination."2 White's analyses would suggest King's inability act decisively. Sanders credits King for "mastermind[ing] a pilgrimage to Washington"1, but also explains how the SCLC lacked the ability to consolidate: "sustained local campaigns for specific gains proved more difficult for SCLC."1 King's leadership in this case has been highlighted as lacking organisation or real direction, showing inadequate long-term insight. However, the difficulties of King's position as head of a new black Civil Rights group are aptly explained by Sanders: "As always, one of the greatest organisational problems he face was the local and national black divisions."1 Though this would excuse the SCLC's lacking gains on a legislative front, it fails to account for King's inability to mobilise the people of Atlanta, and thus the SCLC's early shortcomings and the failure to achieve its primary objective - encouraging blacks to vote, are evidence enough for revisionists to question King's leadership skills. ...read more.


Perhaps unfairly, King's ability is also challenged in view of the SCLC's contribution to the 'Albany Movement'. White's view of the fact that the Albany activists "did not welcome the SCLC presence and were openly critical of King's 'charismatic' leadership style"2 demonstrates the inter-organisational pressures SCLC had to operate under. King's efforts, however, were also seen as a blunder, as he failed to account for the lack of publicity as a result of an absence of white violence to black protest, exposing King's reactionary approaches and bad planning. Yet, Lewis defends King, claiming "It was the planning, the organizing, the strategy that he brought with him that brought change"9, and believes "it was a miscalculation on the part of a number of people that a spontaneous appearance by Martin Luther King could bring change", thus implying that King's responsibility for the failure was not entire. 1028 words - will use wider range of sources when my books arrive!! ...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. The Civil Rights Movement Project

    The March on Washington DC in 1963 Dr King organised a massive march on Washington DC, the original message was to ask for more jobs for black people. However at the last minute it was changed to demanding the passage of President Kennedy's Civil Rights Bill.

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

    This was for the de-segregation of blacks and whites on buses. Martin Luther King was influenced greatly by Mahatma Gandhi's methods of non-violent peaceful, protest. His technique was known as a non-violent resistance, using love, prayer, and speech as direct action against physical violence.

  1. Do you think Martin Luther King deserves his reputation for being a great leader ...

    It was not King but other local figures, for instance, who planned the famous Montgomery bus boycott of 1955. The first student sit-ins of the 1960s also denied that they were under King's influence. It was the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), rather than King's organisation that launched the freedom rides and the SNCC that ensured their success.

  2. Choose any TWO stories you have read in Gullick's "Adventures and Encounters" and write ...

    William R. Roff comments in At The Court of Pelesu and Other Malayan Stories, It was widely believed, among men of this stamp... 'Oriental races' were simply incapable of ordering their affairs competently, and that in consequence it could only be of benefit - to themselves and to mankind - to do so for them (xi).

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

    Ralph Abernathy * King and others held nightly meeting to keep up morale amongst the local black population. * The bus boycott was a huge success. Local black people used car-sharing to beat the boycott. * The bus company lost 65% of its income in nine months.

  2. How far did the role and status of women change 1914 and 1928

    In 1923 and 1925 the property act allowed married women to hold and dispose of property on the same terms as their husbands. In 1925 widows and dependent children were entitled to pensions and benefits. Women were unable to take part in councils, elections or anything to do with politics.

  1. Who was the most influential player of the early civil rights movement?

    that black people were treated equally and got the civil rights they deserved. Also, I believe that Garvey's greatest contribution to black civil rights was his encouragement of them to have pride in themselves, their culture and heritage. Many of Garvey's ideas lived on to influence civil rights in the

  2. Civil rights movement - questions and answers.

    what they were fighting for as they were treated so much worse than the white soldiers who had fought the same way and most importantly for the same reasons. It made people a lot more aware of the situation and how differently the two races were treated.

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