Before Martin Luther King.

Between the 100 years of President Lincoln’s law and King’s speech there was laws called segregation laws. These laws parted white and black people.No black person could use what they called a whites toilet. Everything was separated. Black people had to give up their seats on the bus, no matter how old they might be.

       Some people hated black people so much they would destroy their lives. And that doesn’t just mean killing them. There was one group called the Ku-Klux Klan. Nobody in the group knew each other. Except the people who had invited one particular member. They wore pointy cone hats and a white sheet over them. They mainly acted at night killing black people, burning their churches, shops and destroying their neighbourhoods altogether. They also terrorising white people who in any way liked black people. They would do this and the police and judges would let them all get away with it, unpunished.

A bit about Martin Luther King.

       Martin Luther King Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. In his every day life he experienced racism. His parents who were baptised preachers, made sure that when he was growing he had a good opinion of himself. When he finished secondary school he went to University in Boston. There he found that not all Americans were racist. It was the laws in the south that needed to be changed. Martin became a Baptist minister when he was 18. That was in the year 1948. In 1954 he moved to Montgomery, Alabama. His wife and family worked there to help improve civil rights of black people.

Martin Luther King.

Martin Luther King’s name was Martin Luther King Junior. Under the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. Martin Luther said these words to over a quarter of a million people on August 28th1963

“I have a dream that one day this notion

Will rise up and live out the true meaning

Of it’s creed: We hold these truths to

Be self-evident: that all men are created


He spoke the words under the Lincoln Memorial because Lincoln was the man who got rid of slavery in the U.S.A.

King’s words were among the most important words spoken against racism in America.

On the bus black people were not allowed to sit up front. And also had to give up their seat for a white person. If they refused they would have to go to prison.

In 1955 a lady called Rosa Parks sat on the bus, when a white person wanted her seat she wouldn’t give it to them. Then the driver ordered her to get up but she still wouldn’t and had to go to prison.

When King heard this he encouraged his friends and colleagues to try and help Rosa Parks. He got black people to boycott the buses. Seeing as more black people used busses than white the bus companies had very bad financial difficulties. The courts ruled, on the 5th of June 1956, and racial segregation on the buses became illegal.


King never believed in using violence to solve anything. He said to his supporters “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn over and offer your left”. He also said, for people to say to the white persecutors “We will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering”. As I have already mentioned King never used violence. But, having said that some black people thought he was to soft and used violence.

In 1957, he made a civil rights movement. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In short the SCLC. It campaigned for civil rights across America.

In October 1960, King was arrested for protesting against a racial segregation in a shop in Atlanta, Georgia. John .F. Kennedy later became president and released him.

Black people were encouraged to register by King. This would enable to vote for the president in that election. John .F. Kennedy then became president because most people who voted were new black voters. President Kennedy worked very hard to change the laws that separated black and white people. Black people changing racist policies little by little.

John .F. Kennedy was telling the Americans by the end of 1963 that “The time has come… to make it clear to all that racism has no place in America life or law”.

King was arrested again and imprisoned in Birmingham Jail, 1963. This time some other adults who had protested were also being put in prison with King. Police set dogs on the protester and sprayed them with high powered hoses. People were watching this on the T.V. and were horrified. When King was in prison he wrote a letter to the black people saying that they should never give up.

Martin Luther King’s Speech.

When Martin Luther King was released from prison he arranged a meeting in Washington D.C.. Over 250 000 people black and white gathered for his speech. The “I have a dream speech”.

“I have a dream that one day out in

The red hills of Georgia the sons of former

Slaves and the sons of former slave-owners

Will be able to sit down at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the

State of Mississippi a desert state

Sweltering with the heat of oppression, will

Be transformed into an oasis of freedom

And justice.

I have a dream that my four little children

Will one day live in a nation where they

Will not be judged by the colour of there

Skin, but by the content of their character.

I have a dream that one day in the

State of Alabama little black boys

And black girls will be able to join hands

With little white boys and little white girls

And walk together as sisters and brothers.”

Martin Luther King’s Fact File.

  • Martin Luther King, in December 1964, won the Nobel Prize for Peace.He was the youngest to win it at the age of thirty five.

  • Martin Luther King was killed on April 4th, 1968. He was killed by James Earl Ray when he was standing on the balcony of his hotel room. He was only thirty nine.

  • He was buried near his church in Alabama. On his tombstone, he has the words, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last.”

  • Martin Luther King’s birthday is January 15th.

  • The nearest Monday to his birthday is a national holiday in the U.S.A. The only American to be similarly honoured was the first president, George Washington.

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