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Three Major Events In the Civil Rights Movement Dr. Martin Luther King Participated In

Updated on February 14, 2017
Martin Luther King Jr
Martin Luther King Jr


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister and civil rights activist that played a major role in many key events during the Civil Rights Movement. Before going into everything that he has done let us reflect on how he became a major figure in the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, GA, to Martin Luther King, Sr and Alberta Williams King. Martin Luther King, Sr was a pastor who also fought for racial equality. Ultimately, King's father heavily influenced his decision to become a Pastor.

At the age of 15 King started to attend Morehouse a historical black college and graduating with a B.S in Sociology. At the age of 18 King decided to join the ministry. King was a very prominent figure in the civil rights movement, with him being the founder and president of SCLC(Southern Christian Leadership Movement). With King being a nonviolent activist, him leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott gained him nationwide notoriety.

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks

Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955

The first major event in the civil rights movement Dr. Martin Luther King led was the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Before the Montgomery in 1955, African-Americans were required by the city Montgomery, Alabama to sit in the back half of the bus and yield there seats to whites people. Days before the boycott on, December 1, 1955 when Rosa Parks an African-American woman was arrested and fined for refusing give her seat to a white man.

Nine months prior to Rosa Parks arrest a pregnant 15 year old was arrested for the same act. After Rosa Parks was arrested the Women's Political Council (WPC) a women civil rights group began to call for a city bus boycott on the day Rosa Parks was tried in court. As news of the boycott spread leaders in the African- American community to pitch in. On Sunday, December 4, black pastors in the community officially announced the bus boycott.

The next day while Rosa Parks was being tried in court 40,000 African-Americans in the city participated in the boycott. On that same day black leaders including King formed Montgomery Improvement Association(MIA). Dr. Martin Luther King was elected president of this organization. As the president of the organization Dr.King continued to to boycott until demands were met. Originally the group demanded the hiring of black drivers and a first come first seated policy until 5 women sued the city of Montgomery to end bus segregation laws. The city refused to comply with MIAs demands so the boycott continued. To maintain the boycott, as an alternative to buses for transportation African-Americans walked, organized carpools, and taxes.

On June 5, 1956, a federal court in Montgomery ruled that it was unconstitutional to have laws segregating bus seating. The city appealed the federal court decision, this ultimately cause the lower court to make their decision on December 20, 1956. The next day on December 21, 1956 Montgomery buses where finally integrated during that same day the boycott ended. The Montgomery bus boycott ultimately lasted 381 day. The Montgomery bus boycott was one civil rights movement that made Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the prominent leader he was.

March on Washington,1963

Another major civil rights event Dr. Martin Luther King played a major role in was the March on Washington. The March on Washington took place on August 28, 1963. The March took place to reflect on the social issues and oppression that African-American's endured due to Jim Crow Laws. Over 200,000 Americans attended this event that was organized by A.Philip Randolp and Bayard Rustin, calling a 100,000 black workers to march.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC along with several other organizations also played a major role in the March. Dr. Kings "I Have Dream Speech" that he performed at The March on Washington was a milestone in Kings life making him the prominent figure he is today. The March on Washington heavily influence the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

Selma Voting Rights Movement , 1965

Another major event King played a big role in was Selma Voting Rights Movement. Due to Alabama legislation passing a new constitution depriving African-American's right to vote by increasing poll tax and requiring them to do a literacy test in order for them to vote. Dr. Martin Luther King and SCLC targeted Selma, Alabama which led to the Selma Voter Rights Campaign. Governor George Wallace of Alabama was a heavy opposer to the voting rights campaign, which affected the amount of eligible black voters to get registered. The Selma Voters Right Movement started to gain international attention and became another major event in the Civil Rights Movement.

On February 6, 1965, A peaceful protest was being held in Marion, Alabama until it was interrupted by white extremist who attacked the protesters. Doing the demonstration a protester Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young African-American male was executed by a state trooper. With this tragedy occurring, a protest march was planned in response of Jackson death. On March 7, over 600 people attended the march it was stopped short by state troopers beating and using tear gas on protesters. The brutal scene attained nationwide coverage, sparking outrage around America and drawing people all over the nation to Selma.

On March 9, King attempted to lead another march, but was stopped short due to state troopers blocking the roads again. On that night, a young white minister apart of SCLC, James Reeb , was beaten to death by white extremist for supporting African-American civil rights. After this incident the Supreme Court ordered state officials to permit the march. President Johnson ordered Military troops to protect protesters from state troopers.On March 21 the over 2,000 protesters were set to march from Selma to Montgomery. On March 24 their destination to Montgomery was reached. After protesters reached there goal they were greeted by many supporters. The Selma Voting Rights Movement, was an overall a success, with the Voters Right Act being passed on August of that year.

Selma to Montgomery March

King's Legacy

After the Selma Voting Rights Movement, King played a role in several other events in the Civil Rights Movement. King was assassinated on, April 4, 1968, by James Ray at the Loraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King is a leader who will always be remembered for the legacy he left behind. King is honored every year on his Birthday, which was declared a national holiday on November 2,1983 as remembrance to him.


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    • pan1974 profile image

      April 6 months ago from Columbus,Ga

      I really enjoyed reading this.