The Visionary of peace
Martin Luther King was born into a black family on January 15th 1929 in Atlanta (Georgia). From the early days of his childhood, he could notice racial discrimination and injustice which dominated black citizens’ lives most of all in the southern states of the US. Martin Luther King started standing up for equal rights for people of all colours of the skin when he was still very young, and it was in Mahatma Gandhi who had achieved India’s independence from the British control through non-violent demonstration that he found his great idol.
When Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery in 1955 because she refused to give her seat in a bus to a white woman, the black population started the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Martin Luther King which lasted for more than one year. In 1956, the boycott was called off by a decision of the Supreme Court which prohibited any racial segregation in public transport in Montgomery.
This decision was the key to Martin Luther King’s non-violent resistance which was not only about to be dominant in his further way of life but which would also radically change the society of the United States of America. The vision of non-violent resistance in order to achieve the abolishment of racial discrimination and segregation was the new civil rights campaigner’s stated aim. Uncounted numbers of protest marches, manifestations and events cast a spell on King and attracted more and more impressed people to follow their new charismatic leader. Although preaching and living absolute non-violence, Martin Luther King was more than once attacked by his enemies, and there were even a total of three bomb attempts on him. In the time between 1955 and 1968 he was sentenced to at least thirty prison terms.
Nevertheless, Martin Luther King didn’t slacken his hold on the reins and kept standing up vehemently for the equality of all people. His probably most impressing speech was held in 1963 in Washington, which he began with the unforgettable words “I have a dream…” and which deals with the equality of all races, colours of the skin, religions and classes. Among other influence, it is thanks to this speech that, some time later, two very important laws were passed: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stopped racial segregation at least on the paper and the Voting Rights Act passed 1965 gave the black citizens the possibility to vote. In 1964, Martin Luther King was bestowed the Nobel Peace Prize for his relentless and highly altruistic commitment. Martin Luther King’s last public appearance was on April 3rd 1968 in Memphis (Tennessee), where he held his well-known speech “I’ve seen the promised land”. Only one day later, he was shot by a white racial freak.
Martin Luther King was profoundly convinced that every aim can be reached through non-violent resistance and peaceful protest. His great success shows that this is true. The probably greatest American civil rights campaigner managed to abolish racial segregation which had, especially in the South of the United States of America, grown to inhumane dimensions. Abraham Lincoln always was the big idol of Martin Luther King, as he had already abolished slavery in the USA in 1862. Although the execution of the laws designed to bring equality was still a long and weary process, from the middle of the sixties on, black citizens were able to make use of the civil rights, which led to a great feeling of freedom and emancipation that to many ones was of an even higher meaning than the right to vote.
Maybe Martin Luther King could feel that time was ripe for changes: the United States of America found themselves in the middle of a bloody and hopeless Vietnam War which made violence and death a constant companion in the media and in peoples’ lives. A non-violent nation with emancipated citizens seemed to be the highest aim for Martin Luther King, for which he used all his power and his energy. Martin Luther King was not only a mere visionary for a better world in which all people were emancipated and could live together peacefully, as he didn’t rest until his big dream came true.