MARTIN LUTHER KING: HOW HE CHANGED POLITICS IN AMERICA
The 1960s were the King’s years; he changed the United States. Americans found a new national icon, whom President George W. Bush called a “second founder who trusted fellow Americans to join [him] in doing the right thing.”…
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In the Atlantic poll organized in 2006, King was ranked on the eighth number out of one hundred “most influential figures in American history.” Such names as John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were missing from the top twenty list of the 1960s; such was the height of King’s popularity (Kazin 2009, 983). II. BODY The historical ranking accorded to King is linked to the rise and fate of the civil rights movement. He held the unchallenged position for the civil rights struggle, at least in the popular memory. It was a “classical” period for the movement, starting from the 1954 Brown case to the demonstrations in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma, completing the circle with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A historic wrong was corrected, as in the review of Branch’s second volume, Alan Wolfe wrote, “To recount the life and times of Martin Luther King, Jr. is to tell the story of how, more than 50 years after the century began, America lastly became a modern society” (Kazin 2009, 984). ...
Simply put, the middle was too diverse, the grievances it suffered too varied, to be captured in a single category” (Kazin 2009, 984). Whites sought such ways to absorb the shock of integration as relocating to all-white areas, which they guarded on the pretext of tax laws, personal facilities, and personal rights over racist rhetoric. The movement although did “change the face” of the nation but not as desired (Kazin 2009, 986). King’s civil rights movement refined democracy. It aroused and inspired forceful reaction among populations in millions from all walks of life including white women, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, gay men and lesbians, disabled people, and others who swore their right in public domain and their claim to a distinct proud identity. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, which was a leading achievement of the movement run by King, provided them the right to economic opportunity. People at large recognized the fact that only freedom was not enough, liberty and justice was equally crucial for full citizenship. King wanted a democratic socialist United States where common people no more needed to sacrifice their needs to provide luxuries to the elite classes. T o King, it was both against the spirit of justice and Christianity (Kazin 2009, 986). Politics being the under-current of the civil rights struggle, King entered into alliances with democratic socialist activists the like of Bayard Rustin, A. Philip Randolph, and Michael Harrington, and supported their attempts at making of a long term alliance between black insurgents and the AFL-CIO after rising to the top in the civil rights movement. He advocated such policies that would help working
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