Home > Entertainment and Activities > Holidays > Martin Luther King Day > A Movement Led by Dr. Martin Luther King
|

A Movement Led by Dr. Martin Luther King

In This Article:

Page 1

Another Gandhi?

Often labeled the “American Gandhi,” Dr. Martin Luther King freely credited Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi's strategies of personal commitment, nonviolence, and passive resistance for the effectiveness of his own campaigns in areas such as integration and voting rights.

FAQs

What was Dr. King's philosophy in dealing with the federal government? It evolved over time. From the middle of the 1950s until the fateful 1965 voter-registration drive in Selma, Alabama, King, a shrewd tactician, carefully avoided antagonizing or defying the federal courts or their representatives, which had been key allies of the civil rights movement since the Brown v. Board of Education decision. (He routinely ignored racist state court decrees and police orders.) In the later years of his life, however, King's public pronouncements grew more openly critical of federal policies, especially in the areas of economic inequality and the war in Vietnam.

Like Gandhi, King put himself on the line. In response to death threats, King's aides sometimes attempted to convince the reverend not to march prominently at the front of protest gatherings. King ignored their pleas, leaving his aides to improvise security measures to the best of their ability. (Once, they put as many men with a similar build to King's as they could find at the front of the march, and equipped them with suits that matched his.)

A powerful and compelling orator, King contributed something unique and enduring to the entire American family when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington. Of greater long-term impact than his eloquence, though, was his example of personal courage in the face of constant intimidation and covert operations from individual racists, paramilitary organizations, state governments, and a hostile FBI. (Those who are inclined to think of the Kennedy Administration as an unyielding ally of civil rights should consider its willingness to place wiretaps on Dr. King's phone lines.)

The Significance of Selma

On March 7, 1965, 600 demonstrators attempted to hold a voter-registration march that was to begin in Selma, Alabama, and conclude 54 miles later in Montgomery. The marchers, whose sense of political theater had to be admired, intended to march down route 80—otherwise known as the Jefferson Davis Highway—and across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Shock troops under the command of local law enforcement and the governor of Alabama were waiting for them. After the demonstrators ignored an order to disperse, state troopers and local lawmen tore into the group, assaulting them with clubs and whips. They turned back the protesters—but network news cameras captured the violence, and the image of the beatings provoked outrage around the country (and the world).



Next: Page 2 >>
|

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to African-American History © 2003 by Melba J. Duncan. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


highlights

Vote Now for the Children's & Teen Choice Book Awards
Voting is open now through May 3 for the Children's and Teen Choice Book Awards — the only national book awards program where the winning author, illustrator, and books of the year are selected by young readers. Encourage your child to vote for his favorites today!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

10 Best E-Reading Apps for Kids
Whether your child likes reading fiction, non-fiction, magazines, or storybooks, these top-rated e-reading apps will help build her own personal library and encourage her love of reading.

Registered for Kindergarten — Now What?
Wondering what to do now that you've signed your child up for kindergarten? Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks