American clergyman and civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. remains one of the most significant political symbols in the world years after his death.
Martin Luther King Jr. is famous for spearheading the American civil rights movement. His “I Have A Dream” speech, along with many demonstrations that he led, hugely advanced the effort. He is known for his nonviolent approach to advancing civil rights and equality between races. King was assassinated when preparing for a campaign in 1968.
Find out more below about Martin Luther King’s efforts towards creating an equal world.
How MLK Changed The World
King was the face of the battle against racial discrimination, and propelled several civil rights movements.
From 1955-1956, he helped lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The protest fought against racial segregation in public transportation, as black people were often attacked, discriminated against and forced to give up their seats to white passengers.
It eventually led to the Supreme Court’s decision that racial segregation on buses was “unconstitutional”, prohibiting caucasians from forcing black occupants out of their seats.
King was also the first black man to head the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, being a devout Christian.
This was an iconic speech in United States history, and was a huge milestone in the civil rights movement.
In the speech, King describes his dream of equality between races during a period in which discrimination against African Americans was rampant.
He referenced the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862, which legally declared African Americans as free from slavery.
King famously said, “one hundred years later, the N**** still is not free.”
Reception And Assassination
King is now hailed as a monumental figure in history. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for fighting racial segregation in a peaceful manner.
He expanded his efforts to speak against the Vietnam War among other things, including poverty and capitalism.
However, his fame made him a target for assassination.
King received a threatening letter from the FBI in 1964, who were investigating him for communist ties.
His shooter was James Earl Ray, who was arrested and later died in prison.
During the trial, King’s family accused the government of conspiring to plot his death, and using Ray as a scapegoat.
They won the trial, and were awarded the $100 that they had asked for (they wished to prove that the trial was not about money).
Modern Day Progression Of The Civil Rights Movement
In 1999, King’s “I Have A Dream” was ranked as the most important American speech of the 20th century.
He influenced several other politicians, movements and centuries of people after him for his civil rights activism.
King propelled the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa and several other countries.
Irish politician John Hume was quoted saying that King’s work was “quintessential” for the formation of the Good Friday Agreement.
The United States Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination on all levels (including racial), and was passed days after his death.
This is one of the most prominent anti-discrimination laws passed in American history.
Martin Luther King was an icon of equality and progression, and will be for centuries to come.