King’s associates and counseled him to dedicate himself to the principles of non-violence. Rustin served as King’s mentor and advisor throughout his early activism and was the main organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. But Rustin was also a controversial figure at the time, being a homosexual and alleged to have close ties with the Communist Party, USA. Though his counsel was invaluable to King, many of his other supporters urged him to distance himself from Rustin.

In February, 1960,
Contents

Synopsis
Early Years
Advanced Education and Spiritual Growth
Montgomery bus boycott
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference
I Have a Dream
Assassination and Legacy

a group of African American students began what became known as the ‘sit-in’ movement in Greensboro, North Carolina. The students would sit at racially segregated lunch counters in the city’s stores. When asked to leave or sit in the colored section, they just remained seated, subjecting themselves to verbal and sometimes physical abuse. The movement quickly gained traction in several other cities. In April, 1960, SCLC held a conference at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina with local sit-in leaders. Martin Luther King, Jr. encouraged students to continue to use nonviolent methods during their protests. Out of this meeting, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) formed and for a time, worked closely with SCLC. By August, 1960, the sit-ins had been successful in ending segregation at lunch counters in 27 southern cities.

By 1960, Martin Luther King, Jr. was gaining national notoriety. He returned to Atlanta to become co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church, but also continued his civil rights efforts. On October 19th, King and 75 students entered a local department store and requested lunch-counter service but were denied. When they refused to leave the counter area, King and 36 others were arrested. Realizing the incident would hurt the city’s reputation, Atlanta’s mayor negotiated a truce and charges were eventually dropped. But soon after, King was imprisoned for violating his probation on a traffic conviction. The news of his imprisonment entered the 1960 presidential campaign when candidate John F. Kennedy made a phone call to Coretta Scott King expressing his concern for the harsh treatment for a traffic ticket and political pressure was quickly set in motion. King was soon released.

I Have a Dream

In the spring of 1963, Martin Luther King organized a demonstration in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. Entire families attended. City police turned dogs and fire hoses on demonstrators. Martin Luther King was jailed along with large numbers of his supporters, but the event drew nationwide attention. However, King was personally criticized by black and white clergy alike for taking risks and endangering the children who attended the demonstration. From the jail in Birmingham, King eloquently spelled out his theory of non-violence. “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate

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