Martin Luther King, Jr was an American activist born in Atlanta Georgia on 15 January 1929. He led African Americans during the civil rights movement (King and Carson, pg 54). He was not only an icon figure in America but throughout the world. He used the non-violent method in advancing civil rights. The civil rights movement was a nonviolent movement to bring civil rights and equality. During Martin Luther King, Jrs' time, the whites in the south had political control and they used this position to exploit blacks. From 1890 onwards disfranchisement, racial segregation, and violence had been going on in the southern states with increasing intensity.
During the second half of the 20th century, black community began to resist the discrimination under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. They began to demand an end to racial segregation in the southern States. They also began to seek better opportunities by forming new organizations, through lawsuits, political redress and organizing labor. Reform movements and noted events aimed to stop discrimination, which was hindering civil liberty at work place and in everyday life started to mushroom. Martin Luther King, Jr organized civil rights movement were employing methods such as litigation and lobbying. Activities of organizations such as National Association for the Advancement of Colored people (NAACP) were the basis of the movement from 1896 to1954.
In 1955, Martin Luther King, Jr led the Montgomery bus boycott. He mobilized the blacks in Montgomery, as was in all southern states to participate in the boycott (King and Carson, pg 105). This was not a challenge to Martin Luther King, Jr. This is because the blacks were aware of the injustice, the racially discriminatory laws and racial violence .Racial segregation was one of permitted acts of discrimination following the united states supreme court decision in Plessey and Ferguson in 1896.Other forms of injustice included voter suppression, denial of economic opportunity for the black community and private acts of violence.
The routine was that African Americans were to board buses through the rear door and to sit at the rear seats even if the bus was empty. On 1 December 1955, Rosa Park refused to give up her seat to a white man and she was arrested tried and convicted. When Martin Luther King, Jr and Edgar Nixon who was one of the African American civil leader and union organizer heard the news, they went and posted a bond for her. They requested Parks to allow him to organize boycotts to break down segregation on the bus with her case. She agreed.
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Martin Luther King Jr. and Nixon began to organize the blacks to participate in a protest. They come up with a list of demands for the bus company. They also formed an organization named the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). Martin Luther King, Jr was elected the president and Nixon the treasurer. Together they organized the Montgomery Bus boycott, it received the support of more than 50 000 African Americans, this caused a reduction on the revenue of the bus company of up to 80%. By this time, the movement had gained National attention through the media, causing the entire nation to yearn for change. Martin Luther King, Jr efforts culminated in his Washington march, where he delivered his great speech ''I have a dream''
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated after he had introduced civil rights legislation. President Lyndon B. Johnson took office and in January 1964 met with Martin Luther King, Jr and other civil rights leaders. A case went through the court system to the United States Supreme Court, which gave a ruling that the segregation policy was against the law. Martin Luther King, Jr received the Nobel peace prize in 1964. He was one of the greatest leaders who fought to end racial discrimination.