Dr. Martin luther king is one of the most famous civil rights activists in America to date. However, the importance of his legacy has been debated over how important really was he to the civil rights movement. I personally his movement was a key catalyst for the acquiring of equal civil rights in America. Martin Luther King’s peculiar method of campaigning gained him a large amount of white sympathizers to the civil rights cause. This support, which included President Johnson as a supporter; proved a great asset to the success of the civil rights movement, which highlights King’s importance.
His use of peaceful campaigning put the activists on a moral high ground against the police and authorities trying to physically stop them. King being a Christian Pastor, used his acquired rhetoric to communicate the moral issues of his campaigns to the largely Christian white Americans. His importance is clearly evident as had he not tried to communicate to the masses on a religious level, support for the civil rights movement would be very small outside African American community.
Perhaps a more militant approach like that of the Black Panthers would have proven a possible hindrance to the success of the civil rights movement as sympathy from white people and moral justification would be eradicated. This is why the work of Martin Luther King could be considered very important to the civil rights movement. Another reason why Martin Luther King’s contributions could be considered very important is due to King’s character and personality. He was like a spokesman for the movement.
His impressive oration skills granted him a large audience on which he could lay down his ideas. Civil Rights was mostly associated with him and his personality gave him connection to many people within the political spectrum. King had an inspirational factor to his speeches, as seen during the March On Washington where he delivered his famed ‘I have a dream’ speech in front of 250,000 spectators. His popularity on a national level meant the government had to change their actics in regards to civil rights as upheaval may follow. In this sense, King forced the government to speed up the laws of civil rights, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. King’s flair for words and his personality made his a valuable element to the entire civil rights movement; his popularity gave him audience with President Kennedy, who eventually supported King. This is why he could be seen as have important contributions to the civil rights movement.
As far as King’s work may have lead the civil rights movement, he can still be considered not that important in the grand scheme of things. Some of his ideas and methods were not supported by some members of the civil rights movement. His peaceful methods were rejected by some African Americans – some of who were involved in the Watts Summer Riots and wished to pursue liberty through violent means. Groups such as Nation Of Islam and Black Panthers labelled King as an ‘uncle tom’- a man who worked for the white people and not his own.
This hate towards King made his work less important as opposition decreases his support and gave him enemies within members of the movement itself. Furthermore, King’s speeches were heavily Christianity-based. Although they fitted the majority of citizens, who were mostly Christian, some people were not so his ideas were not understood and accepted very well. In this aspect of things, opponents of King and those who he did not represent made his contributions less important.
All in all, King’s contributions largely were very significant and important in the Civil Rights movement, his borrowed methods of peaceful protest , along with his oration skills and inspirational attitude ensured his work is probably the most single significant aspect of the entire movement. Despite not representing some members from the civil rights community, his legacy is very famous. The most important aspect of his work is his use of moral defences against authorities, his pacifism gave him support from the biggest politic figureheads and therefore his work undoubtedly was very important.
Courtney from Study Moose
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