King: a Peace Symbol
Martin Luther King was a real example of peace for all of us; all his achievements changed the whole history of the world. King was an admirable and charismatic person and a brave leader; he spent all his life working to help the poor and miserable ones.
King became a symbol of nonviolent resistance in the bad treats for African Americans, by adhering to the philosophy of Mahatmas Gandhi. (Schaloredt & Brown, 2009)
The March of Job and Freedom, at Washington
In 1962 black communities were tired of injustice. The African American unemployment rate was double the rate of whites and major civil rights reforms had not yet been reached.
By 1963, frustration at racial discrimination was unbearable. The confrontations with police had become a routine. At the end of the year, twenty thousand protesters had been arrested and over hundred demonstrations had taken place in over hundred cities.
Asa Philip Randolph, along with Bayard Rustin, Whitney Young of the Urban League, SNCC’s John Lewis, Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, and CORE’s James Farmer began planning for the march on 1963. The march would be in support of jobs, freedom, and President John F. Kennedy’s civil rights legislation and it would take place on August 28, 1963. It was a march of peaceful protest. (McElrath, 2009)
-"I Have a Dream", a Speech that made History
By the end of the day there was 250,000 people gathered (blacks, whites, actors, and about three hundred Congressional representatives). CBS presented continuous televised coverage of the march and when Martin Luther King Jr. began his “I Have a Dream” speech, NBC and ABC interrupted their programming to bring it live to viewers. King had planned to deliver another speech, but in the minute he departed form his text.
“I have a dream,” proclaimed King, “that one day, even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. 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.” (McElrath, 2009)
-Reaching the Goals
The march had been a peaceful and successful demonstration. After the march King and the other leaders met with President Kennedy at the White House to discuss the current legislation. Kennedy assured them his commitment to its passage.
In November 1963, Kennedy was assassinated. But even though, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law on July 2, 1964. The bill owed power to the federal government to impose school desegregation; it prohibited segregation in public places; and it established a Commission on Equal Employment Opportunity.(McElrath, 2009)
This was, in my opinion the most important advance for Martin Luther King Jr. and the other leaders that were searching for the same goals. Because it was not only a march for respecting black people, it was a march for making every single person don’t matter of what color or race, get united and work together for a total and undistinguished prosperity.
The Birmingham Campaign
In 1963, Birmingham, Alabama was one of the toughest holdouts to desegregation because of its violent response to civil rights activists.
Martin Luther King Jr. and the SCLC decided that Birmingham was the perfect place to bring their next campaign. The city was controlled by three city commissioners and a mayor, but the March 5 election would change this. Now the new elected mayor would govern the city in his own.
Connor wanted to continue his leadership as the mayor. It was probable that Albert Boutwell, was going to win so it was decided to begin the campaign after the election. The protest focused on desegregation of stores and securing an agreement from storeowners to give job to black citizens. King arrived in Birmingham on the evening of April 2. The election had resulted in a win for Boutwell, but Connor was contesting the results.(McElrath, 2009)
-The Letter from Birmingham Jail
By April 5 they had only fifty participants, King decided he would march on Good Friday, April 12. Even though the state court ordered temporarily not permitting protests, King, Ralph Abernathy, and fifty protestors began a procession to the City Hall. Connor ordered their arrest and in the Birmingham News a group of white ministers had written a letter criticizing the protest movement. So King composed a response, his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was published, here he defended the nonviolent protest and accused whites like them of impeding progress. (McElrath, 2009)
-Taking Action for an Agreement
On April 20 he was released. The community was each day less motivated, but James Bevel and Isaac Reynolds had an idea: Birmingham’s black high school students were ready to participate. In May 2 at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church the students arrived. Bevel sent them toward City Hall; but they were arrested before they arrived downtown (in total six hundred persons).
The next day 1,000 students came from the church and this time police blocked their path. They refused to stop so they were sprayed with high pressured fire hoses and police dogs were released. Three teenagers were bit by dogs, and a photo of these attacks was published in a newspaper the next day.
President John F. Kennedy, disturbed by the violence, sent Burke Marshall to help with negotiations. On May 4, negotiations between local black leaders and business owners began (marches continued). Finally, on May 10 Shuttlesworth announced that thirty days after Mayor Boutwell began his term, restrooms and drinking fountains would be desegregated and within sixty days, lunch counters would follow. And within fifteen days after the demonstrations had stopped, a biracial committee would be created. (McElrath, 2009)
This campaign shows us that King’s efforts to make a change in the society were not easy. And even though sometimes everything seemed to be against him and his ideals, he never gave up. Martin Luther King Jr. is our peace symbol, even though sometimes it was difficult he never recurred to violence.