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Martin Luther King - 6.Version - Referat

Who he was

He was one of the leaders of the African –American Civil Rights Movement. He fought for equality of black
people in America of the 50’s and 60’s. Because of his fighting for justice he sat 30 times in a prison and survived at least two bomb attacks from white people who didn’t like what he did. But that didn’t warp him from his fighting for justice.

Situation for black people in the America from 1876 to 1964

Black people didn’t have the same rights like white
people. In busses black people had to sit at the back and if a white person couldn’t find a place to sit, the black person was supposed to give his seat up to the white person. In all sections of the daily life black people were segregated, in churches, schools, public buildings, trains and even in toilettes. This laws are the so called Jim Crow Laws and were used from 1876 to 1964 while the racial segregation. Jim Crow was for white people the typical picture of a black man. He was singing, dancing and not intelligent.
In the Southern States blacks had du take a “literacy test” before they were allowed to vote. But the usual result was “unable“. Because the contained questions were nearly impossible to answer.

Martin Luther King, Jr’s life

He was born on 15th January, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the family’s first son and was named after his father Martin Luther King, Sr. He lived with his parents, grandparents, sister, brother, uncles and aunts in a house in the residential area called “Sweet Auburn” on Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta. That was the center of black people in Atlanta and today it is still. Already as he was young, he felt the racial segregation is a big injustice. At school he was a very good pupil, he skipped the ninth and twelfth class, that he entered the Morehouse College at the age of 15. The Morehouse College was the only College for black people in the southern states. At the same year he worked also as an assistant preacher in the church of his father. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. Later he studied theology in Crozer Theological Seminary and graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951. In September same year he began his doctoral studies at Boston University and received his doctor on June 1955. In his work against racial segregation he was influenced mostly by Mahat Ma Ghandi. He was imposed, what he reached with his nonviolent demonstrations against the British government. King said, he learned his operational technique from Mahat Ma Gandhi.

In 1953 King became pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

His first success – The Montgomery Bus Boycott

On 1st December 1955 seamstress Rosa parks refused to give up her seat to a white man. This wasn’t allowed for black people following the Tim Crow Laws. So she was arrested. King didn’t find that ok, therefore he took part by the Civil Rights Movement on December, 5th. On the next morning, leaders of the Civil Rights Movement met in a church and planed a citywide Bus Boycott. But first they had a compromise. The compromise was a fixed dividing line for the segregated sections of the busses. Such a line would have meant that if the white section was overstuffed, the white people had to stand; blacks were not forced to give up their seat. But their advice wasn’t accepted. So black residents started the Montgomery Bus
Boycott and elected Martin Luther King as president of a new organization called Montgomery Improvement Association. Instead of taking the bus, the supporters developed their own way to get from one place to another. They employed black taxi drivers, they just demanded 10 cents per ride.
156 protesters were arrested for hindering a bus, including Martin Luther King. He spent two weeks in a prison. But he said: ’I was proud of my crime. It was the crime of joining my people in a nonviolent protest against injustice.’ The boycott lasted 381 days and becoming so tense, that King’s house was bombed. The boycott ended with a resolution of racial segregation in all public transports. The order came from the highest judicial body in America. That was King’s first success in his fight against racial segregation.

Further Demonstrations

In the years between 1957 and 1968 he travelled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times. He appeared wherever injustice or protest was.
In the year 1963 King trained black people in Birmingham, Alabama including school kids in nonviolent demonstrations. 841 demonstrations were held in 196 towns in the country. The biggest demonstration was on 28th August 1963 in Washington D.C. with over 250.000 people including 60.000 white people. On that demonstration he held his famous ‘I have a dream” speech. Some famous quotes of his speech:

-‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.’
-‘I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the kids of the former slaves and the kids of the former slaves owners will sit down together at a table of brotherhood.’
All the demonstrations led to over 3300 arrests only in Birmingham including King and 1000 school kids. But with the demonstrations he just reached the opposite of what he wanted. By the demonstrations he became famous all over the world what led to many assassinations of black people, black kids and also white civil rights campaigner in the southern states.
Demonstration in Washington D.C.

As effect of the happenings in the country followed the resolution of racial segregation in public life in many towns of the United States and one year later they were allowed to vote.
King won in 1964 the Nobel Peace Price and was nominated from the Time Magazine to the “Man of the Year 1964”.

The Assassination

On April 5, 1968 when he was at the age of 39 he was shot to death while he was standing on the balcony in front of his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee. The governor of Tennessee ordered 4000 National Guard troops to find the killer. They found the rifle King was shot with. They also found a man with the same finger-mark as on the rifle. His name is James Earl Ray. He was sentenced for 99 years in prison.

Martin Luther King Day

In 1986 Ronald Reagan signed the law that makes Martin Luther King’s birthday to an official national holiday. The day is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in January.

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