Martin Luther King, Jr. did many things to bring greater equality to America and to ensure civil rights for all people regardless of race. The major things that Martin Luther King did were to:
These two things came to shape the civil rights movement, in large part because of King's contributions and achievements.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a well-known civil rights leader and activist who had a great deal of influence on American society in the 1950s and 1960s. His strong belief in non-violent protest helped set the tone of the movement. Boycotts, protests, and marches were eventually effective, and much legislation was passed against racial discrimination.
Assassinated in 1968, King’s brief life was filled with many great accomplishments, in which he worked to promote the equal treatment of all races; his non-violent approach to protesting, his legions of followers, and his true belief in the ability of mankind to live in peace went a long way toward advancement of civil rights during that tumultuous time in history.
King’s accomplishments are numerous. Some of his major achievements included:
This is just a brief overview of the career of a great man and of his impact on the civil rights movement and the world.
In 1968 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis were protesting their terrible working conditions, discrimination, and low pay. It was obvious they were discriminated against when they were sent home without pay while white workers stayed on the job.
They started a strike on February 12, 1968. Martin Luther King came to Memphis to speak and support the second march of the sanitation workers.
The strike lasted for 64 days and grew into one of the major civil rights events. The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the sanitation workers demanded an end to discrimination, higher wages, and union recognition. This attracted the national news media as well as others who joined the cause, like community leaders and members of the clergy. The strike finally ended on April 12, 1968, and the city of Memphis agreed to the workers’ demands, even though more strikes had to be threatened to make them honor the agreement.
In Montgomery, Alabama, King led a boycott against city buses that refused to let blacks sit in the front seats of the bus. The protest gained followers rapidly, and it led to a citywide boycott of the bus system until the rules were changed; ultimately, after King and his followers were sent to jail, the boycott did succeed, and the unfair, racist law allowing the segregation aboard the buses was changed. This was a straight-out success for the civil rights movement of the time, and gained national attention.
In 1963, King and other leaders of the civil rights movement organized a huge march for equal rights in Washington, DC. With a massive crowd of over 200,000 followers, the march was protesting racial discrimination in employment, racial separatism in schools, and they demanded minimum wage for all workers. It was the largest gathering in Washington, DC’s history, and the site of King’s most famous speech, “I Have a Dream.”
As a result of the march and the speech, the citizens of the nation began to put growing pressure on the presidential administration of John F. Kennedy, encouraging the president to push for civil rights laws to pass through Congress and become recognized on a national level.
Because of his commitment to peace, non-violence and equality for all, King’s protests on behalf of civil rights were able to make genuine headway in American society and allowed Martin Luther King to contribute a great deal to the success of the civil rights movement.
Even as his oppressors exercised force and brutality, King’s insistence on avoiding violence, which he also taught his followers to practice, was a major factor in the respect and acknowledgment given to the civil rights movement during a time of unrest and unease in the country. His genuine desire for the country to come together was ultimately recognized as a great contribution to America; his untimely death was a loss to everyone and started an era of great potential for the nation.
This movement lasted from around 1955 to 1968. Its goals were to abolish racial discrimination in many areas including public transportation, employment, voting, and education.
Non-violent protests and civil disobedience during this time caused many crisis situations where the government had to take action. These showed the inequities and injustice that was happening to Blacks. The protests were done with sit-ins, marches, and boycotts. Notable legislation during this time included the:
The civil rights movement was concerned with the basics of dignity, respect, freedom, and equality.
For a time perspective of the details of Martin Luther King Jr's life, check out the Martin Luther King Jr. Timeline on YourDictionary.
Create and save customized word lists. Sign up today and start improving your vocabulary!