By what stages did Martin Luther King become a key figure in the struggle for civil rights?

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By what stages did Martin Luther King become a key figure in the struggle for civil rights?

Martin Luther King is remembered by many as the father of civil rights; his powerful oratory, his successful tactics and popular image all led the momentous occasion in 1965 when the Civil Rights Act was finally passed, something civil rights activists had been fighting for for decades. He is arguably the most well known figure within civil rights, although remembered for his famous ‘I have a dream speech’ he was a prominent member of the movement from mid 1950s up until his assassination in 1968.

King came from a middle class background; he had attended Princeton and was an intelligent, respected man. He first appeared during the December of 1955, the Montgomery bus boycott had just started and during a meeting of churches, King, a young, confident Baptist minister was elected as leader. He headed the Montgomery Improvement Association, an organisation that first oversaw the running of the bus boycott. It was during the bus boycott that King emerged as a leader, he had the qualities necessary in the fight for equality; through MIA he united many church groups allowing the boycott to work efficiently and effectively, following on from the success of MIA, King was a key figure in the setting up of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, he advocated the idea of boycotts and non violence, in line with his strong Christian beliefs. The achievement of the bus boycott over a year later illustrated the success of its main leader, King, and allowed him to further develop his position in civil rights.

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Throughout the period following the bus boycott and leading to the Albany campaign the SCLC organised ‘sit ins’ throughout many southern states, and after the formation of the student non-violence coordinating committee, freedom ride began. Martin Luther King did not play so much of a role during these events however in 1961 he became involved in the Albany campaign. This however was deemed as a failure, perhaps the low point of Kings involvement in civil rights, it failed to attract the attention that the boycott had enjoyed, there was no confrontation that would inspire people to act and the ...

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