Civil Rights Movement: Desegregation
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968) was the young pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama who rose to prominence in the movement for civil rights. He remains to this day a symbol of the non-violent struggle against segregation.
As a member of the Montgomery Improvement Association, King served as the charismatic leader of the Birmingham Bus Boycott. The success of the boycott helped elevate him to one of the most prominent positions in the growing Civil Rights Movement, and helped him gain the confidence of black southerners ready to involve themselves in the struggle. After some setbacks in Albany, Georgia, King launched a series of non-violent anti-segregation protests in downtown Birmingham, Alabama in the spring of 1963. The droves of determined demonstrators, coupled with the violent response from police chief Eugene "Bull" Connor and his men, helped pressure Birmingham's business community to desegregate its stores. This success, largely due to King's leadership, was one of the most momentous achievements of the first half of the Civil Rights Movement. In the following months, King would serve as one of the key organizers of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.