Political Activist: Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. is the most famous activist who stood up for the rights of the African Americans in United States during 1960s. Rather than choosing to evoke a violent protest, he used the most peaceful way of protesting in the history.

Racism, what Martin Luther King Jr. fought against, was and still is definitely a political and societal issue. It degraded the moralities of the African Americans. For instance, at that time, there were laws that segregated the African Americans from everywhere. They were given their own bathrooms, their own waiting rooms, and even their own seats in the bus. Because of the color of their skin, African Americans were threatened and deprived of the social status and morality.

Among many forms of activism, demonstrations that defined Martin Luther King Jr. as an activist were consumer boycotts, letter writing, and civil disobedient.


In 1955, when the most famous African American woman activist, Rosa Parks, was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her seat to a white man in the bus, Montgomery Improvement Association was formed. Martin Luther King Jr., who eventually served as a president, was elected by the members of the association. The association planned and announced the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which encouraged African Americans to not take bus, but rather walk to the destinations, to strike a blow to the bus companies and to show their power. As a result of this boycott, Martin Luther King Jr. and the rest of the association brought African American’s right to take any seats in Montgomery city buses.

Few years later, in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama for participating The Birmingham March. Birmingham March was a march of African American students, from elementary schoolers to college students who were trained of nonviolence and peaceful demonstration, walking from 16th Street Baptist Church to City Hall. Their main purpose was to talk to the mayor about the segregation of blacks and whites. However, during this process, these children were treated with violence, and some, including King, were arrested. From the Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which he says, “we know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed” and influences the other African Americans.

Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Lastly, five years before his assassination, Martin Luther King makes the most famous and powerful speech, “I Have a Dream,” in Washington D.C. In front of hundredths thousands of people, he earnestly talked about his sincere desires of the equality; “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Through his subtle yet powerful use of peaceful protest, Martin Luther King Jr. influenced many people. In fact, he played a big role in changing the stereotypes of African Americans and bringing the inalienable rights of them.



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