Who was Martin Luther King ?
King was an American clergyman, Nobel Peace Prize
winner and one of the principal leaders of the United
States civil rights movement.
King was born on 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.
His father was a Baptist minister, his mother a
schoolteacher. Originally named Michael, he was later
renamed Martin. He entered Morehouse College in 1944
and then went to Crozer Religious Seminary to
undertake postgraduate study, receiving his doctorate in
King’s mobilisation for Rosa Parks
Returning to the South to become pastor of a Baptist
Church in Montgomery, Alabama, King first
achieved national renown when he helped mobilise
the black boycott of the Montgomery bus system in
1955. This was organised after Rosa Parks, an
African-American seamstress, left work and boarded
a bus for home.
As the bus became crowded, the bus driver ordered
Parks to give up her seat to a white passenger.
Montgomery's buses were segregated, with the seats
in the front reserved for "whites only." Blacks had to
sit at the back of the bus.
But if the bus was crowded and all the "whites
only" seats were filled, black people were
expected to give up their seats—a black person
sitting while a white person stood would never
be tolerated in the racist South.
Rosa had had enough of such humiliation, and
refused to give up her seat. "I felt I had a right
to stay where I was" she said. "I wanted this
particular driver to know that we were being
treated unfairly as individuals and as a
people." The bus driver had her arrested.
Martin Luther King, Jr., heard about Parks's
brave defiance and launched a 382-day boycott
of Montgomery buses.. The 17,000 black residents
of Montgomery pulled together and kept the
boycott going for more than a year. Finally, the
Supreme Court intervened and declared
segregation on buses unconstitutional. Rosa Parks
and the boycotters defeated the racist system, and
she became known as "the mother of the civil
She wasn't the only leader of the civil rights
movement, though. Martin Luther King was
known by the way in which he led the movement.
King’s peaceful marches for civil rights
King advocated civil disobedience,
the non-violent resistance against
unjust laws: "Non-violence is a
powerful and just weapon which cuts
without wounding and ennobles the man
who wields it."
Civil rights activists organized
demonstrations, marches, boycotts,
strikes, and voter-registration drives,
and refused to obey laws that they
knew were wrong and unjust.
These peaceful forms of protest were often met with vicious threats, arrests,
beatings, and worse. King emphasized how important it was that the civil rights
movement did not sink to the level of the racists and hate mongers they fought
against: "Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the
cup of bitterness and hatred," he urged. "We must forever conduct our struggle
on the high plane of dignity and discipline ». King's philosophy of "tough-
mindedness and tenderheartedness" was not only highly effective, but it gave
the civil rights movement an inspiring moral authority and grace.
In 1963, King led mass protests against discriminatory practices in Birmingham,
Alabama where the white population were violently resisting desegregation. The
city was dubbed 'Bombingham' as attacks against civil rights protesters increased,
and King was arrested and jailed for his part in the protests.
After his release, King participated in the enormous civil rights march on
Washington in August 1963, and delivered his famous « I have a dream »speech,
predicting a day when the promise of freedom and equality for all would become
a reality in America. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1965, he
led a campaign to register blacks to vote. The same year the US Congress passed
the Voting Rights Act outlawing the discriminatory practices that had barred
blacks from voting in the south.
Over 250.000 persons gather in washington in August, 1963 urging support
for pending civil rights legislation.
Martin Luther King’s assassination
As the civil rights movement became increasingly radicalised, King found
that his message of peaceful protest was not shared by many in the
younger generation. King began to protest against the Vietnam war and
poverty levels in the US.
He was assassinated on 4 April 1968 during a visit to Memphis, Tennessee.
At 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was hit
by a sniper's bullet. King had been standing on the balcony in front of his room at
the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, when, without warning, he was shot.
The .30-caliber rifle bullet entered King's right cheek, traveled through his neck, and
finally stopped at his shoulder blade. King was immediately taken to a nearby
hospital but was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m.
Violence and controversy followed. In outrage of the murder, many blacks took
to the streets across the United States in a massive wave of riots. The FBI
investigated the crime, but many believed them partially or fully responsible for
the assassination. An escaped convict by the name of James Earl Ray was
arrested, but many people, including some of Martin Luther King Jr.'s own
family, believe he was innocent.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a great man who stood up for what he believed
in. He brought together a nation and helped us see things in someone
else's eyes. He was such a great man and will always be remembered for
what he did.
He took a stand against powerful people when no one else would. He kept
trying once he was doubted and threatened.
Martin Luther King Jr. got people around the world to look past "black"
He was one of the greatest liberals that ever
walked this earth. Dr. King is one of the few true
American heroes. In an age where it has become
fashionable to hero-bash-uncovering the nefarious
backgrounds and destroying the myths of
American heroes, like George Washington and
John F. Kennedy--the name of Dr. King has
remains unblemished, and justifiably so Dr. King
stood for what he believed, and was a man ahead
of his time. In the face of adversity, he dedicated
and sacrificed his life for the equality of all people.
His dream, which many today still share, has continued to live on as his legacy. His
adversaries took his life, but his heroic legacy will never die. "Free at last, free at last,
thank God almighty we're free at last."
Because he was brave enough to preach his thoughts without fear.
The impact of King’s death
The world was shocked once again by a senseless act of violence in the
United States. One after another, Black people have died in the long struggle to
bring racial justice to the American continent. . To their number was added Dr
Martin Luther King. No other black leader had such a following among his
own people. King's message of non-violence, his relentlessly courageous
pursuit of justice, the wisdom and tolerance of his appeal, made him a leader
throughout the United States and a respected figure in the world arena. His
award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 was justly earned.
King's death robs America of her most vigorous spokesman for moderation
and integration. There is no sign of anyone who can take his place.
At that time, with his assassination, America has moved one step nearer to
chaos, and one step farther from community.
King’s funeral :
Family members and friends of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., follow his casket into
an Atlanta funeral home after the body arrived from Memphis, in this April 5,
President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a national day of mourning for the lost
civil rights leader on April 7.
The family of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. walk in the funeral procession of the slain
civil rights leader, in Atlanta, April 9, 1968.
This work was made by :
Kenza El hammoumi
Amine Ait Oulahyane