Life and Times of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and the American Civil Rights Movement

Life and Times of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and the American Civil Rights Movement

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Life and Times of Dr Martin Luther King Jr and the American Civil Rights Movement

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 at his family
home in Atlanta, Georgia. King was an eloquent Baptist minister and
leader of the civil-rights movement in America from the Mid-1950s
until his death by assassination in 1968. King promoted non-violent
means to achieve civil-rights reform and was awarded the 1964 Nobel
Peace Prize for his efforts.

Dr. King's involvement with the civil rights movement began with the
arrest of Mrs. Rosa Parks on December 1st, 1955. Mrs. Parks, a
African-American seamstress on her way home from work, was arrested
for not giving a white bus rider her seat. Mrs. Parks was not the
first African-American to be arrested for this "crime", but she was
well known in the Montgomery African-American community.

In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the
now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization
he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi. In
the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six
million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing
wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he
wrote five books as well as numerous articles. In these years, he led
a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of
the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience.
and inspiring his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", a manifesto of the
Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the
registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on
Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address,
"l Have a Dream", he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and
campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of
twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five
honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963;
and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a

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world figure.

The Civil Rights Movement was at a peak from 1955-1965. Congress
passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965,
guaranteeing basic civil rights for all Americans, regardless of race,
after nearly a decade of nonviolent protests and marches, ranging from
the 1955-1956 Montgomery bus boycotts to the student-led sit-ins of
the 1960s to the huge March on Washington in 1963.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott officially started on December 1, 1955.
That was the day when the blacks of Montgomery, Alabama, decided that
they would boycott the city buses until they could sit anywhere they
wanted, instead of being relegated to the back when a white boarded.

Next were the sit-ins. The basic plan of the sit-ins was that a group
of students would go to a lunch counter and ask to be served. If they
were, they'd move on to the next lunch counter. If they were not, they
would not move until they had been. If they were arrested, a new group
would take their place. The students always remained nonviolent and
respectful.

In 1947, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) planned a "Journey of
Reconciliation," designed to test the Supreme Court's 1946 decision in
the Irene Morgan case, which declared segregated seating of interstate
passengers unconstitutional.

In 1963, King led mass protests against discriminatory practices in
Birmingham, Alabama, a city with a dubious reputation because of the
violent resistance of its white population to desegregation. The city
was dubbed 'Bombingham' as attacks against civil rights protesters
increased, and King was arrested and jailed for his part in the
protests. Upon his release, he participated in the enormous civil
rights march on Washington of August 1963.
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