In the Montgomery bus boycott between 1955-56, King played a key role in the campaign for integrated buses, fighting against the Jim Crow laws. King played a vital role in the boycotts, introducing the ideas of car pools and organizing mass church meetings as well as fundraising due to his profile. It was during the bus boycotts that King started using one of his most successful methods; non-violent direct action, which was seen In a lot more agreeable methods to those who didn’t support the violence commonly used by some campaigners.
However King did not stand alone In the boycotts, with the backing of CORE and the NAACP got the boycotts to a successful conclusion. The boycotts also started the grass root activity, which King believed that both the grass tots and leadership was important to bringing about change in civil rights. One of the civil rights movements wants was to get the attention of the federal government, which King was successful in doing with his part of the boycott campaign, by bringing it more attention due to his status.
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During the freedom rides and sit-ins in the early sixties, King, leading the CLC took a role in them after realizing the potential for the grass-root energy to bring in more federal intervention , however King was not the vital person that made the sit-ins and freedom rides a success, it was CORE that took he lead In the south and lead the movement forward In these instances, while other groups such as CLC, SYNC and the NCSC all showed Interest.
It was then In the success of the freedom rides that the federal government started the action to desegregate the bus terminals. Again In Albany there was disappointment for King with the action at Albany falling to provoke federal government intervention, this was because Kings method of peaceful protest trying to provoke violence from the police of the state to show the mistreatment of colored people, however in this instance
Prescient “out Kinked King” by playing him at his own game and was perfectly polite in front of the camera, making no arrests when the media was involved, making it seem like the blacks were the irresponsible law breakers, the opposite of what King was trying to achieve; leaving the failure of Albany as a great black dot on the success of King’s campaigns. In contrast to Albany, Birmingham was a success for King, unlike Prescient, when King lead the protestors In a similar fashion, Connors rose to the bait and arrested King along with around 13,000 other protesters.
While In Jail, n response to a letter he received, King wrote the famous ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ which exposed the great Injustice they faced, however It had little effect on the federal government. What really got the federal government to intervene was the contribution came to a halt after the intervention, however his choice of a racially divisive city in the South was the most effective choice along with his non-violent tactics, which lead to success.
While the March on Washington did not change much in the movement, it did show that leading civil rights groups could co-operate, the SYNC and CLC working together successfully, and the union of both black and white campaigners, epitomizing the strength of the movement, which was a success for King, however he was greatly criticized by the more radical movements such as Malcolm X, saying that it had been hijacked by JEFF. During the Selma Voting Rights march, in the deep south, Kings leadership and idol status began to falter.
Although through campaigning they had gotten rid of the Jim Crow laws, racism was still apparent, after the Tuesday Turnaround in Selma the division between the violent ND non-violent protesters, which caused King to lose power as a leader. The SYNC militants believed that action needs to happen for black men and women to get the vote. Although at this time King still had the support of the federal government and the peaceful protests were successful to pass the Voting Rights Act, it was still a turning point in Kings status in the civil rights movement.
The focus on civil rights felt to be turning away at the start of the Vietnam War, while King wanted to speak out against it he was warned not to, to further separate the movement. Before the planned march in Cicero, in a white supremacist suburb, could ever take place, King had lost the ear of the federal government and stopped their support, which then caused the open housing bill to be defeated, which further lost King support especially of campaigners who criticized him for backing down.
On the whole, King was a man that both sides could identify with, speaking a language that both black and whites could understand, however during his campaigning his success varied and the success of the civil rights movement cannot be put down to King; grass roots activity and the leadership were a massive part in the success of the civil rights movement, with Jiff’s death especially helping pass laws partly out of sympathy as a tribute to their assassinated president, along with the many civil rights groups that were heading up the movement.
However the role the King played in this was important, being able to communicate to the general public and get their sympathy and understanding, while having support of the federal government, although losing it during his decline of success.