Martin Luther King Jr. was a significant historical figure during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. His acts of peaceful protesting for the rights of African Americans, minorities and the poor helped shape the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is recognized nationally every year on a day named in his honor. Martin Luther King Jr. tremendously impacted our country by bringing attention to major civil rights activities, emphasizing and encouraging the importance of nonviolent protest, and providing leadership to the African-American civil rights movement.
King had a vision of society in which race was not a factor in how people were treated or permitted to live their lives. In the 1950s he began to get involved in the Civil Rights Movement and upheld a position in the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation (Russell, 106). Sparked by the arrest of Rosa Parks in 1955, King led a 13 month long bus boycott in Montgomery, AL (Lawton, 1). Despite being arrested, having his home bombed, and being subjected to personal abuse the mass protest ended with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional. King’s nationally covered trial resulted in support of his movement from people all over the country (Claybourne, 4). He began to understand the power of television to publicize the struggle for civil rights, and his nonviolent sit-ins and protest marches sparked the attention of many African Americans and liberal whites in all parts of the country, as well as support from the administrations of Presidents Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.