Civil Rights Movements
Who Is It? Throughout the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. played a crucial role in organizing many nonviolent events such as the March on Washington and Selma to Montgomery March. These events eventually influenced the Congress to pass both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. also led to dramatic impacts on later laws. Martin Luther King Jr. s the main reason why the 1960s US Civil Rights Movement succeeded, as he fought against de jure segregation and led to the changing of laws; however, this is justified only to a great extent, for he contributed little to social activism. Martin Luther King Jr. successfully influenced many government reforms through the act of nonviolence during the Civil Rights Movement.
He was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, a nonprofit organization aiming to redeem “the soul of America” through nonviolent resistance. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. ed a nonviolent campaign aimed at Birmingham, Alabama, which was known as the one of the most segregated city in the United States during that time. During this campaign, Martin Luther King Jr. advocated nonviolence in “Letter From a Birmingham Jail”. Later on, the SCLC decided to use young children in demonstrations. However, more than 1,000 children were attacked by police troops. The images of children being assaulted by dogs and water hoses were captured by photographers, which led to a “national outrage resulting in a push for unprecedented civil rights legislation”.
This event drew attention to segregations in the South, and promoted sympathy for civil rights protestors across the nation. Over the next few years, Martin Luther King Jr. organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in and the Selma to Montgomery March. During the March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the famous “I Have A Dream” speech. This march was a success- the speech cemented Martin Luther King’s “status as a social change leader”, helped inspire people to act on civil rights, and publicized the US Civil Rights Movement across the world.
This event also led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an act that banned all forms of discrimination. The next year, Martin Luther King Jr. organized the Selma to Montgomery March to fight against African American disenfranchisement. Following the march, the Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that got rid of the remaining obstacles to voting for African-Americans. By organizing nonviolent marches and campaigns, Martin Luther King Jr. was successful in motivating the passing of important laws that improved problems caused by segregation.
The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the major reasons that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Before the act was passed, white people used segregate against minority groups by forming restrictive covenants and practicing gerrymandering. After Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, 1968, riots erupted over the nation. President Lyndon B. Johnson called on the Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1968, hoping to stop the riots and pacify angry protesters. This act banned all forms of discrimination in housing sales and rentals. Martin Luther King Jr. as able to influence several acts passed by Congress even after he died, which proves that he is a major reason why the US Civil Rights Movement was successful. Despite Martin Luther King’s efforts to fight against de jure segregation, he contributed little to ending de facto segregation. Malcolm X, an African American who also played a key role during the Civil Rights Movement, had different a different way to fight against segregation. He promoted active resistance and violence. As James Cone, the author of Martin & Malcolm & America says, “Before Malcolm came along, we were all Negroes. After Malcolm, he helped us become black”.
Malcolm X taught African Americans to be proud of their heritage, and changed how black people thought about themselves. Several of his followers gathered together and formed the Black Panther Party, and organization that had the same objectives as Martin Luther King Jr, but were willing to use violence to solve the problem. By promoting black power and increasing black voter registrations and Afrocentrism, Malcolm X was able to build confidence in blacks and encourage them to take pride in their African heritage, which shows that he contributed to the success of the US Civil Rights Movement as well.
Overall, Martin Luther King Jr. was a major reason for the success of the US Civil Rights Movement. He organized campaigns and marches that inspired people to take action, and influenced the Congress to pass important acts. His death led to the Civil Rights Act of 1968 as well. However, he wasn’t the only one who made all of this possible. Malcolm X and encourage blacks to be proud of their African heritage, and increased black voter registrations. Thus, Martin Luther King Jr. is the main reason why the 1960s US Civil Rights Movement succeeded, yet this is justified only to a great extent.