New York English Academy Rookie blog

January 17, 2023

On the third Monday of January, the federal holiday Martin Luther King Jr. Day honors the memory of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. A social activist and Baptist minister, Martin Luther King played a key role in the civil rights movement from the mid 1950s until his assassination in 1968. Civil rights activists fought for the equality and human rights of African Americans. Despite hardships, MLK was dedicated to non-violent forms of protest, saying that violent attacks on him “deepened [his] faith in the relevance of the spirit of nonviolence if necessary social change is peacefully to take place.1” Using this ideology, MLK was the protest leader and spokesperson for the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955, which succeeded in illegalizing segregated seating on buses.  

In 1957, he and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group committed to achieving full equality for African Americans through nonviolent protest. In his role as SCLC president, Martin Luther King Jr. traveled across the country and around the world, giving lectures on nonviolent protest and civil rights as well as meeting with religious figures, activists and political leaders.

In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. worked with a number of civil rights and religious groups to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a peaceful political rally designed to shed light on the injustices Black Americans continued to face across the country. Held on August 28 and attended by some 200,000 to 300,000 participants, the event is widely regarded as a turning point in the history of the American civil rights movement and a factor in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Listen to the famous “I Have a Dream” speech here: Editors. “Martin Luther King Jr..”, A&E Television Networks, 9 Nov. 2009, 

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