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Civil Rights Movement

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The Civil Rights Movement began on December 1, 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give

up her seat to a white man. This event sparked what would become a national movement of

resistance to racial segregation and discrimination. Martin Luther King Jr. became the leader of

the boycott of the Montgomery bus system which would eventually lead to the Civil Rights

Movement. Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta Georgia to a father

named Martin Luther King Sr. whom was a pastor and Alberta Williams King whom was a

teacher. King became a preacher at the age of 17 and at 18 he became a minister. King learned

about discrimination when he was in elementary school when he had to move to the back of the

bus when the bus was filling up with whites; then he decided he wanted to fight prejudiced. King

went to school with whites for the first time up north when he attended Crozer Theological

Seminary, his father disagreed with that lifestyle because it offended his culture, religion, and he

couldn't control his son. While living up north King fell in love with a white woman and wanted

to marry her but they couldn't make it happen because he couldn't bring her back down to the

south as his wife. King eventually married Coretta Scott and moved down to Montgomery,

Alabama to be a pastor. After the incident with Parks, King decided to take on a boycott against

the Montgomery bus system. The boycott lasted 381 days, but finally the blacks were able to sit

where ever they pleased on the buses. A couple of days later Kings house was bombed and he

was receiving death phone calls and letters. In February of 1965 nearly 100 blacks were arrested

for violating Alabama's anti-boycott law; King was once again arrested and convicted. Once

King was released he gave his first speech about segregation and equal rights in the north. While

in New Orleans a church group adopted the name Southern Christian Leadership Conference and

elected King as the president. King began writing a book on the Montgomery boycott, he

benefited from lawyer Stanley Levinson, who became one of King's most trusted advisors.

Levinson was also a key factor in the FBI's later surveillance of King. There were allegations of

a connection between Levinson and the communist party that formed one of the legal bases for

wiretaps of King's telephone communications. FBI Edgar Hoover ordered those wiretaps as well

as surveillance of King and of King's advisors outside the SCLC and of their relationships to Communism and homosexuality. The FBI hoped to use the information to discredit King and his

organization. In September King was arrested again in Montgomery as he tried to enter a

courtroom. King decided to serve his 14 day jail sentence for refusing to obey an officer rather

than pay the fine. He avoided jail time; however, as the police commissioner paid the fine to

avoid the publicity King would have received. While at a book signing, King was stabbed by a

black woman. King moved to Atlanta to take on full-time responsibilities at SCLC. In May 1963

King and SCLC escalated anti-segregation marches in Birmingham by encouraging teenagers

and school children to join. Hundreds of singing children filled the streets of downtown

Birmingham upsetting Sheriff Connor. Connor sent police officers with dogs and firefighters

with high-pressure water hoses against the marchers. This incident was shown world-wide on

television and in newspapers. On August 28, King delivered the Keynote Address to an audience

of more than 200,000 civil rights supporters. His "I Have a Dream" speech expressed the hopes

of the Civil Rights Movement in oratory as moving as any in American



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