Role of MLK

Topics: Martin Luther King, Jr., Civil disobedience, Lyndon B. Johnson Pages: 5 (2476 words) Published: May 19, 2014

How important was Martin Luther King in bringing about civil rights for black people in the USA? (50)

Martin Luther King was instrumental and pivotal; in the civil rights for black people, and arguably the most important person. King was critical for the civil rights movement; he was massively proactive. This is evident from King’s first significant role, the 1955 Bus boycott - King put forward his method of non-violent protest as for correcting the inequalities of the American Society. Already from this first act we see King’s ‘pure’ intentions, his ideal of non-violent protest which he would continue to use throughout his civil rights campaign, King persuaded local people to boycott, without them it would be unsuccessful. The value of this one event is key to understanding the importance of King; this one event set the tone for the rest of his campaign, it showed that his ideal of ‘non-violent protest’ was successful but also gave King his leadership position. King publicized and organised freedom rides and sit-ins e.g. Woolworth’s Lunch counter’, boycotts and mass marches. This is important because King knew that violent methods of protest would only accomplish in alienating people. King’s most famous march would be the mass march on Washington in 1963, the crowd is shown in the ‘view of some of the crowd that arrived in Washington DC at the end of the ‘March on Washington’, 1963’, the purpose of this Source was to show the extent of King’s Leadership and influence and most likely taken to get the understanding across that this is ‘serious’. And it would most likely have been taken by a spectator/civil rights activist at the event. The value of this source is vast in understanding King’s importance, from the source we can see the crowd, the way that people are ‘cramming’ see, hear King at the front. What we can’t see that is important is that not only 250,000 people in the crowd, but a quarter of those were white. That King was also inspirational to white people. Another valuable message of this source is we see the Washington Monument, why is this important? It infers that King chose this ‘purposely’ as the end to the march; the Washington Monument was where the emancipation proclamation was passed whilst Lincoln was President (important to rights). However, the limitation of this source is we can ‘empty seats’, but an assertion cannot be made as we do not know what time the picture was taken. In the source there people are standing, but we can’t see there facial expressions, but why would they be there if they weren’t Inspired? Or have a true belief in the civil rights movement? At Washington monument we hear King as an orator, understanding his pivotal role by his ‘I Have a dream speech’. The purpose of this source is people can hear the ‘voice’ of the black people, if they didn’t make it. In the source King is being universal and inclusive, this showed that King was important in bringing White and Black people together, ‘our nation’ , this is also strengthened by King’s personal reference ‘my little four children’ , this phrase is inclusive as a lot of people there would have been ‘family people’. This is further strengthened by King’s religious connotations ‘Thank God Almighty’, as religion is inclusive. Another message from the source is King’s use of language, King uses ‘I have a dream’ repeatedly, and this would have stirred passion and been memorable. King is articulated and sophisticated in his use of vocabulary, King talked- with passion, positive, calm; it would still have had an effect on people even if they didn’t understand. One thing we can learn from the source is that King seemed ‘prophetic’ to people, throughout the speech he is metaphoric ‘ cash a check’, maybe a subtle reference to black people being economically poorer, conveying sympathy. This one source tell us how t King could encapsulate an audience of 250,000 , but that he was key in influencing people about Civil rights...
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