Martin Luther King: Leader in the American Civil Rights Movement


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968) was a famous leader in the American civil rights movement. In 1964, Luther King was received the Nobel Peace Prize as a youngest person for his continuous efforts to end segregation and racial discrimination throughout civil disobedience and other non-violent means. He dedicated his life for civil rights activities. Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955), Southern Christian Leadership Conference, March on Washington (1963) led brought significant changes of American life through his courage and noble devotion. His move to eradicate racism is remarkable.

In the 1950s and 1960s Luther King fought to end racial segregation and sought separate public facilities for blacks and whites and discrimination against African Americans. He accomplished to increase public sympathy to reach his goals, and in many cases change to the law. He organized non-violent protests, by following Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals.

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Though he was involved with his family, his church, activities for peace and justice, his world travels and movements, Dr. King wrote six books and lots of articles such as in 1958 he wrote “Stride Toward Freedom”, the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, “Why We Can’t Wait” (1959) The story of the Birmingham Campaign. In 1959 in his “The Measure of a Man” he answered the question what is man. He notices that man is less than God because man is a biological being with a physical body, then he defines man as a marvelous creation of God. He said all men are created equal by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. All of his works came out from his strong ideology of antiracism.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to comply with the Jim Crow laws, which required giving up her seat to a white man. Luther King was protested and decided to boycott the bus company. As a result he was arrested and King’s house was bombed. The boycott continued for 385 days. Finally the United States Supreme Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle declared that Alabama’s state and local laws need to segregation on buses were illegal.

Opposition to the Vietnam War

King was opposed to the Vietnam War because that war took money and resources and he notices that could have been spent on the War on Poverty. He argued that the US congress was spending more money on military defense. He blamed the US of having killed a million Vietnamese, especially children. Government objected and criticized to King’s direct action.

March on Washington

King is perhaps most prominent for his “I Have a Dream” speech, given during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He representing SCLC and he was the leader of the so-called “Big Six” civil rights organizations. President Kennedy initially opposed the march outright, since he was concerned it would negatively impact on the passage of civil rights legislation, however the organizers were firm that the march would proceed. He sought some specific demands for example he asked a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment, an end to racial segregation in public school, protection of civil rights workers from police brutality, self-government for the District of Columbia, and a $2 minimum wage for all workers.


Dr King was assassinated on 4 April, 1968 while standing on the balcony and the world mourned for him. His charismatic leadership inspired young and old, men and women, in this nation and around the world. Starting from the primitive communal system to modern society in every society there are two class and they are oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another. This conflict carried on an uninterrupted open fight, a fight that each time ended either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of contending class. As a result, Black was always refused to get equal opportunity for several laws. Luther King was fight for civil rights movements but in the culture black slaves were not considered as citizens. Race hatred and violence, segregation separates our communities.


F. Walsh (2003). The Montgomery Bus Boycott. Gareth Stevens, World Almanac Library, ISBN 0836854039, pp-23-24.

King Jr, and Carson, C, et al (1992), The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, University of California Press, ISBN 0520079507. pp-55.

M, Manning (2001), Race, Reform, and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1990, University Press of Mississippi, ISBN 0878054936. pp-82.

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