The world has given many leaders to us but there are few who have marked tremendous achievements and were able to change the lives of so many people.
The leaders who have inspired me by their struggle and dedication are very few but when I first heard the name of “Martin Luther King” back in 2008 when Barrack Obama announced in 2007 his candidacy for President of the United States.I realized the importance of MLK for black Americans.
The population of the United States includes a large variety of ethnic groups coming from the many races, nationalism and religious. The process by which these many groups have been made a part of a common cultural life with commonly shared values is called assimilation.
The history shows that the assimilation in the United States has been much more successful for the white ethnic groups than for nonwhite ethnic groups. Among the non white ethnic groups the black American descent have had the greatest difficulty on becoming assimilated into the larger culture.African Americans were brought to the United States against their will to be sold as slaves.
The first census of the United States was conducted in 1790, counted about 4 million people most of whom were white. more then eight out of ten traced their ancestry back to England, African Americans made up a surprising 20 percent of the population, an all-time high. There were close to 700,000 slaves and about 60,000 “free Negroes” and 1 million Native Americans.
It was the white population that had the greatest numbers, the money and the political power in the new nation and therefore this majority soon defined what the dominant culture would be.
Although slavery was abolished in the 1860’s but its legacy continued and Africans Americans were not readily assimilated into larger Americans culture. Most remained in the South, there were not allowed to vote and were legally segregated from whites. Black children were not allowed to attend white public schools due to that many former slaves and their families became caught in a cycle of poverty that continued for generations.
The state affairs remained unchanged until United States Supreme Court declared in 1954 that racially segregated public schools did not provide equal educational opportunities for black Americans and were therefore illegal.
Martin Luther King Jr, a black Protestant minister with a great gift for inspiring people from the late 1950s until his assassination by a white gunman in 1968,King led thousands of people in his nonviolent marches and demonstrations against segregated and other forms of racial discrimination.
Kings goals were to bring about greater Assimilation of black people in to the larger American Culture. His ideas were largely developed from basic American values. He wanted greater equality of opportunity and “freedom now” for his people. He never demanded to separate his people from the American society, but rather to gain for them a larger part in it.
He became a leader for many black Americans, later due to his struggle and dedication toward his people two major civil rights laws were passed during the 1960s.One law made it illegal to segregate public facilities and the other made it illegal to deny black people the right to vote in the elections.
The civil rights laws of the 1960s helped to bring a significant level of assimilation of blacks in to larger American culture. Most significantly, the laws eventually helped to reduce the amount of White prejudice toward black people in all parts of the country.
The civil right movement benefited not only African Americans, but all minorities in the United States, American Indians, Hispanics, and Asians.
Racial discrimination in employment and housing was forbidden by law. The civil rights laws also advanced the rights of women, and these laws have reinforced the ideal of equality of opportunities for all Americans.
Martin Luther King, in his speech “I have a dream” delivered on August 28, 1963, called for an end to racism. This speech became the driving force of his civil rights movement, leaving a mark in the history of the United States with regard to civil rights of citizens.