Discuss One Of The Leaders Of The Civil Rights Movement

Discuss One Of The Leaders Of The Civil Rights Movement

The civil right movement would be incomplete without the role of Martin Luther King Jr. He was born on January 15, 1929 at Atlanta, Georgia. His parents were Martin Luther King Sr., and Alberta Williams King. His father was a reverend and taught him the value of dignity from an early age. He is remembered as a civil right activist who employed nonviolent means to bring social change by using methods like boycotts, speeches, and marches.

On September 20, 1944, Martin joined Morehouse College. In College he was influenced by the essay of David Thoreau on Civil Disobedience. He was particularly moved by the idea of snubbing evil system and theory of nonviolent resistance. This made him interested in ministry because he believed church was the best platform to begin social protest. Later he joined Crozer Theological Seminary and learnt ethical and social theories of great philosophers including the teaching of Mahatma Gandhi one of the Indian social reformers.

He also used boycotts as a nonviolent means of attaining social change. He led the Montgomery bus boycott to force Bus Company to change segregation rules against blacks. All African Americans were called to refuse riding on the bus, hoping that this would cost the company business and force it to accept their terms. This was a nonviolent action with which King and other civil right leaders hoped to send a strong message. He felt that the boycott was one way of refusing to cooperate with unfair system. The boycott demanded courteous treatment of African American by the drivers, seats to be given depending on who arrives first, and hiring of African-American drivers in their neighborhood. After 11 months of the boycott, the Supreme Court ruled on November 13, 1956 that Alabama’s State and local legislations responsible for buses segregation were unconstitutional.

King delivered a compelling speech at Washington, D.C. in a march for jobs and freedom, where they hoped to push legislators to enact civil rights bill. Though initially they only anticipated a group of about 100, 000 people, more than 250,000 attended this meeting. Participants came from across culture with white and black representation. His speech “I have a Dream” on this day is one of the most memorable speeches. In this speech he visualized an American free from injustice and discrimination and where every man is treated equally.

Indeed Martin Luther King Jr. is an African-American civil rights activist who believed in use of nonviolent means to achieve social change. King was influenced by David Thoreau teachings on use of nonviolent means to attain social change by refusing to cooperate with oppressive system. He used non violent means like boycott to organize one of the longest boycotts in the civil rights movement at Montgomery. This culminated in court banning the segregation laws in buses that fostered unfair treatment of Blacks. He also used compelling speech to bring about social change. This is evident from his speech at Washington D.C where his I have a Dream speech during march for freedom and jobs aimed at pushing the government to enact the civil rights act, convinced others that it is possible to have a nation where all people are equal. King is a civil right leader who used nonviolent means to push for equality between Whites and Blacks.


Darby, Jean. Martin Luther King Jr. Minneapolis, Learner publications. (2005).

Stephen Feinstein. Inspiring African-American Civil Rights Leaders. Berkeley Heights, NJ Enslow Publishers, Inc. (2012).