Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

Om Martin Luther King Jr., en viktig forkjemper for bedre vilkår for den svarte befolkningen i USA.
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I want to write about Martin Luther King, because he has done so much for the civil rights without using violence.


He was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. After college he graduated in sociology and from Boston University he received a Ph.D in Systematic theology. He was a well educated man. King was awarded honorary degrees from various colleges and universities in the United States and several foreign countries.


King married Coretta Scott and they had four children. In 1953 they settled down in a little town called Montgomery, Alabama. The incidents that will take place become decisive for the rest of his life. The married couple decide to help the black people with their rights. King became pastor of a local black church, the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. All four children have followed their father's footsteps as civil rights activists.


On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a member of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. The Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by King, soon followed. In protest against the racial segregation, they came up with the idea to boycott all busses. But he told everyone that there would not be used any violence. Everyone in the local church fully supported the idea. The boycott lasted for 382 days. King was arrested during this campaign, which ended with a United States Supreme Court decision that the racial segregation on intrastate buses and all public transport was forbidden. The news reached the southern states and people began to open their eyes for the successful protests in Montgomery.


After the campaign, King took part in the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957. This was a group created to organize the power of black churches to steer non-violent protests in the service of civil rights reform. King continued to dominate the organization until his death. King believed in the philosophies of non-violent civil disobedience. Also used successfully in India by Mahatma Gandhi.


I 1963 King had become very popular. He now wanted to go the city called the "racists capital". I 1963 thousands of black people marched, peacefully into Birmingham. They were not planning on anything violent and acted civilised. The local police chief had given orders to stop the protest until blood was floating on the streets. 3000 policemen and firemen were ready to use brutal force against the protesters. When the peaceful crowd came into town, they used water cannons and other weapons to scare and drive them out of the city. The protesters would not give up and tried again and again. At last the firemen and policemen laid down their weapons. A lot of the protesters were arrested. The prisons got overcrowded and the police did not know what to do. The most important with this demonstration was the power of the media. Everything that happened under the protest was filmed and documented. The pain, screams and the noble non-violent actions were broadcasted all over The United States. This was in a way the end of extreme racism.


Later King planned a march to Washington, DC. He and his organization did not expect more than 25 000 people. They were concerned, because they needed at least 100 000 people to make an impression. But the black people burned for this case and 250 000 showed up. He was very impressed. He held his most famous and decisive speech "I have a dream". In the same year as the march to Washington took place president John F. Kennedy was killed. This was a great loss for the support to his case. But the new president Lyndon B. Johnson, signed a law that black and white were equal. This became a constitutional law.


King was assassinated at 6:01 p.m. April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Friends inside the motel room heard the shots and ran to the balcony to find King shot in the throat.


King organized and led marches for blacks' right to vote, desegregation, labour rights and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into United States law with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


King was an American political activist, the most famous leader of the American civil rights movement, and a Baptist minister. Considered a peacemaker throughout the world for his promotion of non-violence and equal treatment for different races, he received the Nobel Peace Prize. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter in 1977, the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004, and in 1986, Martin Luther King Day was established in his honour.

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