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Martin Luther King Jr.
On January 20, 2020, the world remembered and honored the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968), the prominent voice in the civil rights movement. A champion for advancing civil rights, Martin Luther King Jr. chose nonviolence and civil disobedience, to address the political and social injustice that African Americans faced on a daily basis.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a
single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
– Martin Luther King Jr., April 16, 1963
Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight to end segregation and racial discrimination against African Americans began with the injustice against Rosa Parks in December 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. On December 1, 1955, Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery city bus.
Martin Luther King Jr. was angered by this act and asked the African-American residents of Montgomery, Alabama, to boycott public buses and trains. The boycott was the first major civil rights campaign in the Deep South. News spread of the boycott and African Americans from the other southern states joined in. The boycott lasted for more than a year (December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956).
Martin Luther King Jr. chose a non-violent manner to protest the injustices against African Americans; boycotts, marches, and sit-ins. He also used his voice, delivering inspiring speeches and sermons that drew large audiences to the cause.
On August 28, 1963, over 250,000 demonstrators descended upon the nation’s capital to participate in the ‘March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom’. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, calling for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 first proposed by President John F. Kennedy, was signed into law by Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, on July 2, 1964. The Act banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also ended segregation in public places. The following year, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on August 6, 1965. The Act prohibited racial discrimination in voting.
Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life’s work to achieving equality and justice for all. It’s up to us to carry on his legacy.
Thank you, Martin Luther King Jr.