Some people were put on this Earth to be scientists, or teachers, or lawyers. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was put on this Earth to change the way the human race thinks and acts against segregation and the persecution of the so called minorities.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. single handedly changed the social outlook of blacks and other minorities today. He paved the way for blacks and other minorities to live in a world without fear of being beaten or verbally abused.
If it were not for men and women like Martin Luther King Jr. who were willing to take a stand for what they believe in our world would still be as archaic as it was in the beginning. His optimism and desire for love overcame the injustices and negativity that were ruling the south. "I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become reality.
I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." This non-violent tactic would prove to be the catalyst for the entire Negro movement against racial segregation. The early years of Martin Luther King Jr. had a dramatic affect on his views of racism and religion. His father was a preacher at Ebenezer Baptist Church and taught him at a very young age to love the white man even though the white man does not love you. This was very difficult for Martin to grasp at such a young age since he had not been introduced to racism yet. However he got his first taste of how cruel racism can be when his childhood best friend who was white was no longer allowed to play with Martin because he was black.
This deeply scarred Martin and throughout his later childhood years and first years of college he had a deep hatred for white people. Another event, which had a dramatic affect on his view of life, was the death of his grandmother. He was very close to his grandmother and when she died he had trouble grasping that she was really dead, which is why for the rest of his life he had a strong belief in personal immortality. The first incident that helped shape Martin Luther King Jr.'s conscience of segregation was an incident with him and his father in a shoe shop.
The clerk at the shop would not let Martins father try on shoes because he was sitting in the front of the shop. This is the first time that Martin had seen his father lose his cool and made him have second thoughts about trusting white men and not feeling angry about the segregation that was taking place in the south. Martin's father said that he will follow the system of segregation but he will never accept it, this made Martin believe that he should also not accept the system of segregation. Another experience which helped shape his views was when he was in a grocery store and a white woman suddenly slapped him on the face because apparently Martin had stepped on her foot.
After this Martin and his mother left the store immediately but they did not retaliate against the woman. This shows that although a person is physically assaulted even though they are black they would be foolish to take action against that person or even to go to the authorities. Martin was a very bright student and entered his first oratorical contest at the age of fourteen where he first preached the injustices of racism in the south. He titled his speech "The Negro and the Constitution." In his speech he stated that although the constitution states that there will be freedom for all in this country the black sons and daughters of the country are treated without respect and dignity.
And although the armies of the south were defeated with swords and guns the hatred in the south has not yet been defeated. This is true in that the north defeated the south and slavery was legally abolished but yet a hundred years later the blacks are still receiving the same hatred and indignity as when slavery was legal. So the constitution which preaches freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is really unconstitutional in that not everyone can enjoy these things, which the constitution has made free for our country. On the way home to Atlanta after the contest two whites made Martin and his teacher leave their seats and stand the 90 mile trip to Atlanta. This is the definitive straw that broke the camels back. Martin had grown up watching Negroes being beaten and lynched and the economic insecurity that came with being black.
He also saw that this economic insecurity hurt the poor white community just as much as it hurt the black community as well. This made Martin more conscious of the injustices in our society. Martin Luther King Jr. attended Morehouse College at the age of fifteen.
It was here that he got his first taste of political and racial freedom. The schools were not funded by the state and so the professors could discuss whatever they pleased, which included discussions on race and the ills that were taking place in the south. Martin was deeply influenced in his first year of college by a piece written by Henry David Thoreau entitled "On Civil Disobedience." Thoreau speaks about his refusal to pay taxes and choice of going to jail then support a war that would spread slavery into Mexico. It was here that Martin realized that because evil was taking place he didn't have to mold himself around it, rather he could not cooperate with it. He found this should be a moral obligation with everyone. He considered himself an heir of the legacy of creative protest.
When Martin entered college he immediately became involved with organizations who were opposed to racial injustice. As he became involved in these organizations he began to realize that many white people were involved, this softened his resentment to the white race. Although most of the south had a deep mind set against the black race the younger generations were beginning to realize the injustices that were taking place in the south and they began to turn around the ancient evils of the south. The stereotypes of the Negro had a great affect on Martin psychologically. By believing that the Negro was loud and lazy and messy Martin felt the desire to always show up as early as possible to class, to always be grimly serious and to keep his room spotless and his shoes shined. Even though Martin at a young age fought against the firm grasp of racism in the south it still had such a powerful control over peoples minds that it made them change their lives subconsciously to be different because they white men made them believe they were different.
Martin decided to become a minister his senior year in college because he believed he could have a greater affect on people by preaching the injustices of segregation and racism once or twice a week to a large crowd. But as Martin began to dip his intellectual curiosity in the practice of communism he began to think that the power of love over solving social problems was not a realistic thought and he thought that only an armed revolt would be able to stop social injustice. As he attended Croze r and went to more and more seminars he began to realize that non-violence was the key to solving these problems. It is not worth the death of a man to create racial freedom when that man cannot celebrate that freedom for himself. Martin spoke out with these values publicly saying, " All I'm trying to say is, our world hinges on moral foundations. God has made it so! God has made the universe to be based on a moral law...
." This is true in that God made everyone different but with the intent that we should all coexist together in love and peace. However the south, which is dominated by the church has still not accepted these moral laws that have been set here by their savior. On June 18, 1953 Martin Luther King Jr. married Coretta Scott in Marion, Alabama.
Martins father performed the marriage. Coretta was always a deep supporter of what Martin did, although she was concerned with his well being she knew that what he was doing was for a greater cause and that she should let him preach racial injustice even though it might mean his death. Martin moved to Montgomery, Alabama to accept the role of pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Martin gave his first sermon on the oncoming war within our civilization and that he is not here to be a great pastor but to deliver Gods message of racial justice and freedom.
"I have felt with Jesus that the spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and to set at liberty those that are bruised." It was his dream to become a minister so he could have a greater affect on the mindset of the black community in the south against the tyrannical white men that were ruling the south and casting down the Negroes with the slums of society. After Martin began to become comfortable with his new job and the new city he decided to take active interest in the NAACP, which was an organization designed to discuss the political, economical and social issues going on in Montgomery. He also joined the Alabama Council on Human Relations which was an organization designed to tackle the problem of education in Alabama. This was a great beginning to Martin Luther gaining power in the South because he gained support from all the blacks for being such a strong supporter of the NAACP but he kept the communication lines open with the white community by staying involved with the Alabama Council on Human Relations, which was an interracial organization.
Just as Martin entered these organizations the Montgomery bus boycott began, which was the perfect event for Martin to flex his political and social muscles. December 1, 1955 a Mrs. Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white male. "She was a victim of both the forces of history and the forces of destiny." It has happened many times through the course of history that men and women have been cast down their self-respect and dignity torn up only to have those men and women rise up and break the chains of tyranny and evil. So it was only a matter of time before someone stood up to accept the role of leader and it just happened to be Rosa Parks. After Martin Luther heard about the injustice that had happened he decided it was about time for a protest and that boycotting the buses in Montgomery would be the most suitable way to tell the white community that the blacks were not going to submit themselves to these injustices anymore.
Two days later Martin Luther King Jr. and other ministers and leaders joined together to conduct a statement for the bus boycott. This is what they ended up with, "Don't ride the bus to work, to town, to school, or any place Monday, December 5. Another Negro woman has been arrested and put in jail because she refused to give up her bus seat... ." This was the first major step to the non-violent course against racism in the south. A few days later Martin Luther King Jr.
gave the most decisive speech of his life. He preached about American democracy and how protesting was not against the law but they reserved the right to protest. "You know, my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair." After Martin ended his speech people gave him a standing ovation. This is important to remember that at the time what Martin Luther King Jr.
was doing was very life threatening. He was speaking out against the tyranny of the south at a time when black beatings were at their highest and the law proved to be nothing more then men in blue suits standing by watching the injustice happen. The three resolutions that the Negroes were trying to instate were 1. courteous treatment by the bus operators was guaranteed. 2. passengers were seated on a first-come, first-served basis- Negroes seating from the back of the bus toward the front, whites from the front toward the back.
3. Negro bus operators were employed on predominantly Negro routes. After this motion was passed everyone in attention stood up and began to cheer. Martin Luther King Jr. was chosen as the spokesperson to deliver the speech to the mayor listing the conditions, which they deemed necessary for racial equality in the city.
The fathers of the city did not agree with these terms and said that it would be against the segregation laws to have a first come first serve seating arrangement. Martin finally began to realize that going into a situation optimistic was not going to win the battle he realized that it was going to take a lot of fighting and support to win the war. The mayor announced publicly that the bus boycott was against the morals of the people of Montgomery and that he would have to instate a get-tough policy if it did not end. This meant that blacks were being pulled over and arrested for silly traffic violations even Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for going 30 in a 25. This shows that although the boycott was legal the mayor of the city disliking so much that the Negroes had power made it so everywhere they went they were charged for ridiculous crimes that were being committed all the time by the white community.
After this the tension between the white and black communities were at their highest and Martin Luther King Jr. became the target of the hatred. On January 30, 1956 his home was bombed while he was attending Monday evening mass. Martin realized after this that he did not need a gun in his house to protect them and that he should not fear death. "Had we become distracted by the question of my safety we would have lost the moral offensive and sunk to the level of our oppressors." The Montgomery Court deliberated on the question that Negroes boycotting the bus was illegal and they came to the decision that it was (the 17 white jurors found it illegal at least). After this 100 names were put on a list to be arrested for boycotting the buses in Montgomery.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s name was on that list. He however was not ashamed to be arrested along with the other 99 names on the list. Martin was found guilty and was fined 500 for violating the anti-boycott law. The other defendants were not to be tried until his case was finished, which meant he was going to appeal it. Martin Luther King Jr.
left the court with his head held high knowing what he was doing was for the better good of humanity. "I think when a person lives with the fears of the consequences for his personal life he can never do anything in terms of lifting the whole of humanity and solving many of the social problems, which we confront in every age and every generation." Martin Luther King Jr. began to realize that what he was doing did not matter if he got arrested because it was for the good of the black community and it was going to lift our country out of the dark pool of segregation and social injustice. The Montgomery bus boycott went to the Supreme Court and they found that the segregation laws in Montgomery were unconstitutional and were to be lifted at once. This was a huge step in the direction for racial equality in the south.
Not only because the Supreme Court found the segregation laws unconstitutional but because the black community found that by non-violent protest they could change the ways of the old and bring in the ways of the free. Martin Luther King Jr. was becoming the most prominent figure in the south against segregation. On February 14, 1957 he was elected as the head of the Southern Leaders Conference (later known as the SCLC). But with the good came the bad.
One night when Martin Luther King Jr. was out of town he got a call from a friends wife saying that houses were being bombed all over town and his friends home and church had been bombed in one night. The whites could do this and not be worried about being arrested which just fueled the fire to bomb these prominent black figures. However the city of Montgomery was being thrown into anarchy because of these bombing and so something unprecedented happened, seven white men were arrested for the bombings. This was a major step towards racial equality. Now the whites did not have complete power over the law and they were beginning to be charged just as equally as the blacks were.
During the summer of 1957 the SCLC made plans for a Crusade for Citizenship, this was a new South wide educational and action campaign for the enforcement of Negro voting rights. It was Martin Luther King Jr.'s belief that until the blacks were allowed to make the short walk to the voting booths and win the majority of the south that the fight against segregation would go nowhere. The black community needed men in office and by protesting in Washington they hoped to get just that. Now although Martin Luther King Jr. understood that what he was doing was very dangerous and that there was a good chance he was going to die fighting for a cause he openly said he would die for, he had no idea that he was going to be stabbed by a mentally deranged woman.
This became a wake up call for him and he realized that he needed to take some time to recuperate and rethink his priorities. After this Martin spends time traveling through Europe and Asia meeting with top political figures and discussing the problems that he is facing in the United States. He talks with the Prime Minister of India who preaches to Martin the use of non-violence and that only through non-violence will we be able to prevail against racial injustice. A major event, which showed just how far Martin Luther King Jr. has come happened on May 28, 1960 when he was acquitted of tax evasion by an all white jury in Montgomery. Ten years ago if you had asked any person in Montgomery if Martin Luther King Jr.
would be found not guilty for tax evasion they would have said your crazy but it just goes to show you that by non-violent protest and by bringing the problem to the attention of people everywhere you can gain ground. Martin Luther King Jr. got his greatest white supporter from one of the greatest American presidents who at the time was just a senator. Martin Luther King Jr.
was arrested for violating his probation and was sent to Reidsville State Prison. The next day Senator Kennedy called the Georgia governor and asked for Martin's release. The day after Martin Luther King Jr. was released from prison and four days later Kennedy wins the presidential election, which came mainly because of the support from the black voters. With the acquisition of his greatest ally President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr.
began getting more and more publicity on his fight to end racial segregation. Soon the Kennedy administration began taking action towards the civil rights movement. This was a very bold decision made by Kennedy because by doing this he was going to lose most of his white supporters in the South but if he didn't take any action then he would lose the majority of the black voters who were the reason he was in office. So Kennedy tread slowly in the struggle and this did not seem to please the black supporters in the South.
Although he was doing more than the recent presidential administration had done he was still falling short of the expectations from the black community. Another major step in the battle against segregation came in December of 1961 when eleven Freedom Riders triggered a non-violent historic movement, which was soon to take hold of the entire country. It started in Albany, New York where a few black bus passengers who felt that they needed to publicly expose and boycott the indignities that they had to endure for interstate bus travel. A few months later the Negro community had enough supporters boycotting the buses that the Interstate Commerce Commission had to make all the bus terminals integrated.
However the protests continued and so came more arrests and once again Martin Luther King Jr. was sent to jail. On April 19, 1963 King and Ralph Abernathy are released from jail on bond. Two weeks later however the tensions had come to a boiling point and the white community was the first to lash out by using fire hoses and dogs to subdue the 1, 000 young men and women who were protesting non-violently.
This is one of the most graphic scenes in national history. Two hundred years earlier we fought against the tyranny of England to gain our freedom and now the black community was fighting for the same cause their freedom and this time it is the white Americans who are taking the tyrannical throne and trying to destroy what our forefathers created, freedom. Because of this horrific event federal troops were called to Birmingham, Alabama to try and restore "peace." This did nothing more but increase the tension in the South and all it took was two well-placed bombs to finally open the floodgates. After all this time of remaining calm and displaying great courage by using non-violent tactics the Negro community had had enough and broke out by hurling stones at police officers and destroying property. This may have been the wake up call that America needed because on June 11, 1963 President Kennedy announced his new civil rights proposal.
Two months later August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. gave what is quite possibly the most dramatic and prominent speeches in the history of the United States. "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed- we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal... And.