King was a strong leader and his great strength was his ability to inspire many people he reached out and spoke to . He was a superb and gifted orator and was extremely compelling. He conveys his thoughts and feelings as well as others about the injustices of segregation to national audiences. In this essay, I’m going to talk about “how far the leadership of king responsible for the gains … ” and how there were other factors that too promoted change and how king could be criticised.
As I said before King was a compelling and captivating leader and orator, who appealed to black Christians in the southern states and could have been seen as the ideal speaker. He often broke the unjust laws of the de jure discrimination of the south. He provided the open minded with opportunities and hope. He did this by showing America not to judge people by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. His speeches and acts in public were responsible for swinging public support behind the civil rights legislation of the mid 1960’s.
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King advocated peaceful protest throughout his life and in doing this he grasped a lot of media attention and public support. One his first peaceful protest he was involved in was the Montgomery Bus Boycott in when his leaderships and presidential skills came out. It demonstrated Martin Luther King’s leadership qualities and brought him to national attention, marking his emergence as a leading light within the civil rights movement. His contribution reinforced his philosophy of a non-violent approach to the achievement of change.
This shows how his involvement and leadership helped and was responsible for gain in the civil right movement because of his success leadership and orator skills and his strong beliefs influenced and helped in his success. Another peaceful protest that king was involved in/lead was the Birmingham Protest and the Washington march in 1963. Following the Albany movement of 1961-62 he knew he had to change tactics and carefully plan his next protest carefully. He focused his attention on Birmingham, Alabama.
This was because he saw how the local police, such as Police Chief Eugene “Bull” Connor reacted violently to protests and King saw his chance to grasp a lot of media attention. But another reason for targeting Birmingham was because it was one of the worst examples of segregation in the southern states so wanted the media to notice this so he could gain more public support. His plan was successful. The violent treatment of the young protestors caused a media frenzy. Northern whites became increasingly sympathetic towards the CRM. President Kennedy said he was ‘sickened’ by the images he saw.
This was an important step that King had made happen as the public support and sympathy all helped to strengthen the CRM. Again showing how strong his leadership skills were and how he was able to think through his protests clearly and he knew how to get the public support and how he was constantly helping to strengthen the CRM. The March on Washington could be seen as the highlight in Martin Luther’s career where he delivered his ever famous “I have a dream” speech. The march consisted of representatives from the SCLC, SNCC, CORE and the NAACP, and it was to commemorate the centenary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
And the goal was to put pressure on Congress and the President to pass the civil rights bill. Kings slogan for the march was “for jobs and freedom”, so this initially meant that a lot of people would take part in the march, and show how they support everything that their strong leader, King was expressing in his inspiring speeches. Something else that attracted media attention was that it was not only blacks that were supporting the CRM but more and more whites, became more involved in the fight for “Freedom” on the black people.
I his speech he showed his real compassion and need for “Freedom” and “Desegregation” and for the civil rights bill to be passed. Again strong leadership ,one his important traits helped the CRM gain more , and in this case it was again more public support (white support increased ),more focused media attention and government support ( the government had the power to force southern states to desegregate). Selma in 1965 was an ongoing campaign to register black people to vote. King looked into thing carefully and just like Birmingham he thought that the local police there would use violence (this meant media attention).
And King guessed right , the local police reacted with violence and one man Jimmie lee Jackson who was protecting his mother and grandmother from being beaten, The police ended the first attempt to march with bull whips and tear gas, forcing the marchers to turn back over the bridge. The second attempt 2 days later was also unsuccessful. King who was under pressure from Johnson took the decision to turn back. But the third attempt was successful and involved 8,000 marched from Selma to Montgomery. But on arrival, their numbers increased to 25,000 indicating the level of support or the voting rights campaign . The positive result of the events at Selma was that it led both Johnson and popular opinion to the view that further legislation was necessary. And in 1965 the Voting Rights Act was passed. King showed that his peaceful protest worked and the CRM gained a lot from them, especially this one which passed the 1965 voting rights act. Finally the last campaigns that were led by Martin Luther king were the Chicago Freedom movement in 1966 and The Poor people’s campaign in 1968.
Where he started campaigning in the North so he could do the same as what he did in the south and to desegregate. Even though the two campaigns were not all successful they still showed his strong leadership and the support for the CRM increased despite small downfalls like these. Looking at what other people say you can see his importance . Professor Badger argued there was a revolution in southern reactions due to the civil rights movement, in which “no person was more important than king” ,ijnthis you can see kings importance and how he touched people’s hearts and because of that many now support the CRM .
After saying all those points amount Kings Leadership and how he helped the CRM gain support amongst other things. There were other factors that promoted change. Such as mass activism of protestors, as without the large numbers of support from people at protests leaders such as King would not have as much authority and they mass numbers of protestors created masses of media attention, which in turn increase the support for the CRM. Other factors that promoted changed were the power of the presidents and their choices.
Kennedy and the voter registration, which encouraged the voter registration. (Numbers gradually increased). Also President Johnsons ,civil rights acts of 64 and the voters rights act of 65 were a huge turning point in the CRM and not only did it show that the government cared but it increased support and the media attention (increased white support). Congress also promoted change because of the increased support which allowed them to pass CRA of 64 and VRA.
Another factors that in the smallest helped promote change was the FBI , but not what they did (they did not support the CRM and used violence) but because of how they dealt with things this would have made the civil rights activists more determined and this would be the same with the state and local police . As well as because of the violence used by the local police , such as Bull Connor in Birmingham who used violence ,led to there being mass media overage and increased white sympathy after seeing how the local police were reacting . The media was very important in that it gave publicity to the CRM and gained incredibly large numbers of support, and examples of how the media helped can be seen in Little Rock, Birmingham and Washington. These were all important factors that together help gain support for The CRM and promoted change, and they contributed to one another. King, even though he may have been a strong leader, he could also be criticised.
This is because many people think and believed that he worked to closely to the white people and the government (followed what they said, e. g. On the Selma march, and he went with what President Johnson said). Also that he caused division in the CRM. As well as in his many protests he placed children at risk, e. g. In Birmingham, where he knew they would use violence, he still went ahead. And finally he was just power hungry.
Overall I believe that the leadership of king was important, but he was not wholly responsible for the gains in the CRM. Because there were other leaders and factors that promoted change and support, as I mentioned above. I believe that the gains in the CRM would not have been achieved if it wasn’t for all of the different factors coming together, creating media attention, helping to gain support and more black determination showing how strongly they believed in what they were fighting for.