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Within The Context Of 1865 To 1968 How Significant Was The Part Played By Martin Luther King Jr In Achieving Equality For African Americans?

1303 words - 6 pages

The pentagon, a relatively recent american building, has twice as many bathrooms as are necessary. The famous government building was constructed in the 1940s, when segregation laws required that separate bathrooms to be installed for African Americans. Across the United States there are many examples of leftover laws and customs that reflect the racism that once permeated throughout American society. The civil rights movement beginning in the 1860’s after the American civil war is a pivotal point in American history, it was the struggle to create equality. Many key figures such as Martin Luther King but also Presidents and more radical activists, have influenced decisions yet some have ...view middle of the document...

I personally side with the revisionist historians and in this essay I will present the argument from the two groups of historians and analyse the significance of the part played by Martin Luther King in achieving equality for African Americans.

Decades after his death Martin Luther King is remembered as the most significant African American leader during the civil rights period. His stature as the leader of the civil rights campaign was firmed by the march on Washington that continues to inspired millions to fight for equality and justice. His pinnacle achievement was manipulating the march on Washington leading to the voting rights act which consequently meant that many historians of the time to adopt the great man view of Kings leadership of the civil rights movement.**** The march is an effective use of the nonviolent strategy and oratory skills that King was famous for, there is little doubt that the nonviolent strategy was the most effective tool used by African Americans in the struggle for civil rights.

The speech itself however demonstrated how King made the Civil Rights movement appeal to a broader section of society “He sat across white liberals, poor black southerners, and the international community. That was his most important role”. Thus demonstrating the significance of the ‘I Have A Dream’ speech to achieving equality for African Americans by unifying them with “White Liberals” by sharing the American dream in which Kings own dream was rooted.

Other civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X criticized King for being an Uncle Tom. However “King was no uncle tom, his non-violent strategy was by no means passive, King himself went to jail many times King was feared … He used tactics like boycotts, sit-ins, and freedom rides to force businesses and governments to their knees.” The nonviolent tactics that King employed were more effective and had a significantly larger impact than the violence used by Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. The nonviolence strategy exposed the violent attitude of the southerners which in turn brought sympathy to the King and the civil rights from many whites in the north.

Martin Luther King, Jr. rose to national prominence professing nonviolent direct action and interracial organizing in the late 1950s and 1960s. The nonviolent strategy proved crucial throughout the civil rights movement Martin luther King’s approach to civil rights is still celebrated today whereas advocates of violent protest are seen as radicals. For example the 1963 march on Washington remembered more favourably than Watts riots that swept through the Compton region of Los Angeles. Where King was a great organiser of the people, his form of protest attracted support from whites and helped forward the civil rights and voting rights act, the violence that Compton is now notorious for, lost sympathy that white middle classes may have had for the civil rights...

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