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Martin Luther King and Civil Rights – Essay Sample

Martin Luther King and Civil Rights – Essay Sample

1. The Civil Rights movement’s leaders practiced a non-violent ideology, inspired in part by Dr. King’s adoption of Gandhi’s non-violent tactics.  Despite the passage of Civil Rights legislation, the federal government hoped that African-American citizens would take a lead role in the struggle.  With the objective of confrontation in mind, the movement’s leaders resorted to creative tactics “to confront white supremacy.  Deprived of the right to vote, Blacks mobilized the resource most readily available to them – they put their bodies on the line against racism” (Lawson and Payne, 18).  The movement’s leaders arranged sit-ins, marches and other non-violent tactics aimed at forcing confrontation.

2. Black and white activists both lost their lives during the movement, as did young children.  Four little girls died in the 1963 bombing of a church in Birmingham.  Medgar Evers, a leading activist and organizer, was assassinated by a sniper in Mississippi in 1963.  Three civil rights workers (one black and two white) were murdered in 1964, an event that caused President Johnson to order the FBI to investigate the trio’s disappearance. Martin Luther King, the man who had led the struggle for Civil Rights onto the national stage, was shot by a sniper in Memphis in 1968.

3. The lack of economic disparity and opportunity, still prevalent in American society, must be seen as the greatest failure of the movement.  However, its successes have transformed the nation, securing for all citizens the right to vote, to equal employment and equal housing.  Specifically, the Civil Rights movement defeated public segregation and acquired (for African-Americans) the right to vote…” (Lawson and Payne, 42).  The formation of the SNCC and rise of the Black Panthers and Black Muslims, groups that were impatient with the “paternalism of their elders such as Martin Luther King,” placed stress on the movement (Hunt, 233).  Ultimately, the most important legacy of the civil rights movement was the landmark legislation that enfranchised the African-American community.

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