Why Did Martin Luther King Jr. Do What He Did?


Quick Answer

Martin Luther King Jr. was a driving force behind various civil rights reforms in the United States because he believed in freedom for all people. He received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his work.

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Full Answer

Dr. King focused on American injustice as it related to the political, educational and social status of black people. Despite the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which banned the practice of slavery, the 14th Amendment, which extended citizenship to black people and the 15th Amendment, which gave black people the right to vote, overt and covert inequalities still existed, particularly in the southern region of the country.

Between 1955 and 1968, Dr. King fought to change these injustices through peaceful demonstrations and petitions to enact change. Many such demonstrations were met with violent resistance. The Supreme Court handed down a decision that "separate but equal" policies did not violate the 14th Amendment, but overturned that decision after finding that "separate but equal" education was inherently unequal. The subsequent unrest led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington. Dr. King's efforts, along with many other activities during the Civil Rights Movement, led to the development and passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

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