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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: History
  • Essay length: 1109 words

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

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

What role did Martin Luther Kings play in the Montgomery bus boycott? In December Of 1955, a boycott of the bus system in Montgomery, Alabama took place which was to shape the future for black civil rights. As head of the MIA, an organisation formed to lead the Montgomery bus boycott, Martin Luther King played a vital role in this seminal event. But was he a leader or was he lead? Before the protest, king was an unrecognised face in Montgomery and on moving to the town, he had no plans to become involved in the civil rights movement. As a Boy, Martin Luther King Jr, grew up and attended a segregated school in Atlanta, Georgia. This segregated up bringing provided King with a strong driving force for the fight for black rights. He recalled his white friend's father demanding that he would no longer play with him. 'For the first time, I was made aware of the existence of a race problem.'

Middle

King's faith also made him an obvious choice. As a young and popular minister, who felt 'called by God to serve humanity, his links with the church would provide local support and much needed funding. The help of the church would also attract the right kind of interest and its supporters would be keen to follow King's wishes for a peaceful protest. King lead a non-violent protest in the Montgomery bus boycott which I feel was his most important role in the event. The most major act of terrorism on the black protesters was the bombing of King's home on January the 30th 1956. His wife and their baby daughter escaped without injury. However King refused to let anger swallow him and he told and angry crowed of blacks waiting at his home that "We must learn to meet hate with love" This non-violent approach encouraged a peaceful protest which is undoubtedly one the keys to its success. King also encouraged unity and co-operation between the blacks.

Conclusion

One oocal activist agreed: it was 'a protest of the people.....not a one man show... the leaders couldn't stop it if they wanted to.' Throughout the boycott, King made a number of inspirational speeches, undoubtedly his true talent. King's speeches 'mesmerised' his audiences sparked great admiration and publicity. When first elected as president of the MIA, King had just a few hours to prepare a speech for the mass meeting that was to be held on the evening of December 5th at the Holt street Baptist church. Considering the quality and feeling behind his speeches, I think that Martin Luther King was a strong leader in the Montgomery bus boycott. However, due to h8is slight reluctance to enter the role of president of the MIA and the way he was told what to do (preparing the speech etc), I feel that in some ways he was lead. Despite his criticisms, however, I feel it was vital for the protest to have some form of leader, and as King had the great ability to mesmerise his audiences, along with his connections with the church, he was the obvious choice.

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