Compare the contributions of Martin Luther King and Lyndon B Johnson to the gaining of black civil rights in 1964/5.

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Compare the contributions of Martin Luther King and Lyndon B Johnson to the gaining of black civil rights in 1964/5

Both Martin Luther King and President Johnson played significant roles in the coming about of civil rights for African Americans. The two men in different ways were pivotal in the signing of civil rights legislation in 1964 and 65. Martin Luther king grew to prominence in 1955 are grew to be a great black leader. He was an effective organiser, exemplary speaker and a highly skilled motivator. He was able to articulate the feelings and frustrations of the black community in a clear, intellectual and persuasive manner. Through his work King was able to highlight the plight of black people in America, and led many to see the need for full civil rights for African Americans. One person to see this need was Lyndon Johnson who passed the civil rights acts of 1964; he effectively destroyed his political career to aid the lives of Black people.

Martin Luther king evidently contributed a great deal to the civil rights movement and ultimately to the federal legislation signed in 1964. King was of great importance to the civil rights movement, he stepped in at a time where it is arguable the movement had lost a sense of direction. He provided the vital link between the black civil rights leadership and the less educated African American member of society, something that the NAACP had failed to achieve. King through his career as a Baptist minister was able to use religion to create a moral legitimacy for the movement. He also used religion to attack the white clergy, he highlighted the hypocrisy of them teaching the Christian ethics of equality and “love they neighbour”. King was an advocate of non violent protest, something which he learnt from the teaching of Gandhi. He argued through the course of his life that true progress could only be made when the cycle of violence and hate was broken.

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King saw great importance in the need for equal voting rights, throughout his life he placed great faith in the power of the vote. In the south many black Americans faced problems doing something as simple as registering to vote such was the extent of the intimidation they were subjected too. In Mississippi, 42% of the state's population was black but only 2% registered to vote in the 1960 election. However, more and more did register throughout the South and in 1960, their support (70%) helped to give the Democrat J F Kennedy the narrowest of victories over Richard Nixon. 


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