Martin Luther King. Martin was one of Americas greatest civil rights activists, shaping the lives of Black Americans for the better.

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Denise Uy  9IRMartin Luther King Assessment4/12/11

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His father was a Baptist minister while his mother was a school teacher. He went to a segregated public school and graduated there when he was 15. In 1944, he went to Morehouse College. King then studied ministry in Crozer Theological Seminary. He married Coretta Scott in 1953. They had two sons and two daughters. The year after, he became a pastor in Montgomery, Alabama. He received his doctorate in Boston in 1955. Martin was imprisoned and physically assaulted numerous times due to the campaign. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Martin was one of America’s greatest civil rights activists, shaping the lives of Black Americans for the better.

Martin Luther King fought for ending racial discrimination against Black Americans. He achieved this by using non-violent methods such as boycotts and strikes, organizations, books, sit-ins, letters, marches, and speeches. The first successful event was the Montgomery Bus Boycott. On December 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. Law then required her to do so. She was arrested. Martin then led a bus boycott. This was successful as the bus company gave in to their demands after 382 days. Segregation in buses was no longer permitted. Despite bombings on his house, he refused to back down. In 1957, he and a few others formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This aimed to coordinate the civil rights movement in the South. He was elected as president. King also wrote books to convince the nation to join his cause. One of his novels about the civil rights movement was “Stride toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story,” which help spread awareness to Americans. The novel was about the boycott and nonviolent protests. Inspired students organized a new non-violent tactic: sit-ins. On February 1960, a few black students barged in a white-only store. When their order was refused, they sat patiently despite threats. There was nothing violent about this method, in case of an attack; the student would take the punishment. Though about 1500 protestors were jailed, restaurants throughout the South abolished their segregation polices. This method continued and was adapted to other segregated public facilities such as beaches, parks and transport, until segregation was prohibited. One of his most famous literary works is ‘Letters from a Birmingham Jail.’ It was an open letter he wrote on April 1960 while imprisoned. Campaign in Birmingham (most segregated city in America) also included television images of blacks brutally attacked by city police. This sparked national outrage. President Kennedy was prompted to introduce a civil rights legislation. Martin Luther King also organised marches. Two of the most famous ones were the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March. The March on Washington attracted over 250,000 people to the national mall. His speech at the march, “I have a Dream” is one of the most famous speeches in American History. He talked about a future where there was racial equality, where Americans were truly living the American Dream (belief that American was the land of opportunity), and where people wouldn’t be judged by the ‘colour of their skin but by the content of their character.’ Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, mostly due to this march. This law made discrimination against Black Americans illegal. In 1965, King organised a march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery. At first, the march was unsuccessful, as police used tear gas and clubs to discourage the marchers. However the march attracted thousands of civil rights sympathizers, both blacks and whites. Due to the march, Lyndon Johnson convinced the Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Though opposed by politicians from the South, it passed in the House of Representatives by 333 to 48 and in the Senate by 77 to 19. On August 1965, blacks were free from any restrictions to vote.

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Martin Luther King fought racial discrimination between blacks and whites. The beginnings of this feud could be traced back 400 years ago when the Triangular Slave Trade (trading of slaves for goods) occurred. Its name derived from the route ships involved would take. Slave ships would leave British ports with goods to trade with African slave traders for slaves. These slaves were then transported across the Atlantic and landed either in Caribbean, Brazil or the South of America. These slaves would then be bought by white plantation owners for cheap labour. On 1808, slavery was banned in America; however ...

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