Why Martin Luther King Jr Is Significant To Black History

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” MLK Jr.

By Nonso Nwagbo

It’s been more than 50 years since the champion of civil rights and equality Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was murdered on his hotel room balcony. Yet the issues that he fought to correct still very much linger in our great nation today. 

No civil rights activist had the pull and effective approach to the struggle for equality like Martin Luther King did. In a time when racism and all types of segregation was law in America, Dr. King and his army of freedom fighters consistently fought for the rights of black people in America, contributing a lot of accomplishments to the common struggle and indeed black history.

 National Park Service is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Here’s why Martin Luther King Jr’s significance to black history can never be overstated. 

  • After Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her bus seat prompted the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, Dr. King was chosen to lead and be the spokesman of the protests that ensued. With the boycott lasting for 381 days, it crippled economic activities in the area. In November 1956, a Supreme Court ruling made it constitutional for people of color to sit where they want! 
  • One approach that Martin Luther King followed that was unsurprisingly effective and drew large support to himself was the use of non-violence in his organized protest and resistance. This ideology birthed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with the motto “not one hair of one head of one person should be harmed.”
  • Martin Luther King Jr devoted his life to educating religious leaders, politicians, and activists as well as the common folk on civil rights and the great need for equality in America. 
  • Martin Luther King in his lifetime championed causes and fights that birthed acts and laws that changed the slave history and rights of people of color in America. Notable amongst them are the fair housing act of 1968, civil rights Act of 1964, and voting rights acts of 1965.
  • His many books, publications, speeches, and quotes have been a source of motivation and deep insight into the need for tolerance and the fight for social, economic, and racial equality around the world. 
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. assisted in planning the legendary “March on Washington” in 1963. This march drew over 250,000 people to demonstrate the significance of civil rights legislation. The march aimed to end segregation in public schools, protect people from police brutality, and create laws that would prevent discrimination in the workplace. Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” address at this march. This speech is one of the most well-known speeches in history. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was a huge success. A year later, in 1964, the Civil Rights Act was enacted.
  • In his lifetime, Martin Luther King Jr. supported causes that birthed acts and laws like the fair housing act of 1968, the civil rights Act of 1964, and the voting rights Act of 1965 all of which have changed the slave history and rights of people of color in America.  
  • Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 just days after Dr. King’s death. The Fair Housing Act means that a realtor could no longer refuse to sell a house to a black family in a white community.

What you may not know about the March of Washington Speech.

  1. The event featured no female speakers. At the March on Washington, all of the speakers were men.
  2. Among the ten speakers on stage that day was a white labor leader and a rabbi.
  3. Dr. King’s advisers advised him to leave out the “I have a dream” speech, which he had given several times previously. “Tell them about the dream, Martin,” gospel singer Mahalia Jackson yelled throughout the address.
  4. Dr. King’s address was broadcast on all three major television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC). It was the first time many Americans, including the President, had heard him deliver a whole speech.
For more information about MLK, click on the Youtube video for Interesting Facts from Your Kid Professors. #martinlutherkingjr #MLK #MartinLutherKingDay #MartinLutherKingJrforKids

Conclusion

Martin Luther King holiday and Black history month give us all the opportunity to relearn our history. And in doing so, we can better appreciate the sacrifices of great men like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what it means both for our present and our future.

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