To What Extent Was the Contribution of Martin Luther King Central to the Success of the Civil Rights Movement?

Topics: Martin Luther King, Jr., Montgomery Bus Boycott, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Pages: 3 (1144 words) Published: January 24, 2011
To what extent was the contribution of Martin Luther King central to the success of the Civil Rights Movement? The first major event of King’s civil rights career was the Montgomery Bus Boycott.On December 5, 1955, five days after Montgomery civil rights activist Rosa Parks refused to obey the city's rules mandating segregation on buses, black residents launched a bus boycott and elected King as president of the newly-formed Montgomery Improvement Association. As the boycott continued during 1956, King gained national prominence as a result of his exceptional oratorical skills and personal courage. His house was bombed and he was convicted along with other boycott leaders on charges of conspiring to interfere with the bus company's operations. Despite these attempts to suppress the movement, Montgomery bus were desegregated in December, 1956, after the United States Supreme Court declared Alabama's segregation laws unconstitutional.

There can be no doubt that Martin Luther King was essential in giving the movement mass appeal. He gave it the charismatic figurehead that it lacked until that stage and he helped move it out of the courtroom and the control of the NAACP onto the streets. His charisma helped push the Montgomery Bus boycott into the public eye and keep it there.In 1957, seeking to build upon the success of the Montgomery boycott movement, King and other southern black ministers founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Under the leadership of Martin Luther King from 1957-1968 the SCLC became a highly publicised and popular organisation in the fight for racial justice. It was a southern movement and was based on the black church. The SCLC therefore differed greatly form the NAACP, which was northern, secular and regarded as overly influenced by white members. Although increasingly portrayed as the pre-eminent black spokesperson, King did not mobilize mass protest activity during the first five years after the Montgomery boycott...
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