By Alexa Grigsby*
In celebration of Conflict Resolution Month, Student Legal and Mediation Services is presenting a blog series about individuals who inspire peace in their communities and the world. This post highlights Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his influential role in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s in the United States.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or MLK as he is commonly referred to by historians, is a prominent figure in the history of African Americans and civil rights movements. MLK played a slew of roles in his lifetime. He was a father and a husband, a Baptist minister, the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and a civil rights activist. He was widely known as a proponent of peaceful protest and a spokesperson for human rights, and many remember him for his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
MLK led a series of nonviolent protests through the 1960’s. One of the most notable protests was the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which challenged segregation in public transportation. Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white patron and was subsequently arrested, sparking a citywide bus boycott that lasted for more than a year. The boycott in Montgomery ended when the law segregating public transportation was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court due to its previous ruling in Brown v. Board of Education declaring that the notion of “separate but equal” was inherently unequal.
Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and stated in his acceptance speech, “…man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”
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