The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Birth of the Civil Rights Movement

civil-rights-day

‘I have a dream…’
Thus began Martin Luther King Jr.’s infamous speech that people hearken back to, even in today’s times. Whenever they feel their freedom is being infringed upon, or merely for the sake of nostalgia! The best part is, it doesn’t matter what colour, caste or creed you belong to.

The language of freedom is but One!
If you are looking to find out Who Started the Civil Rights Movement, it is none other than the distinguished author of the rousing speech that is mentioned above. It’s little wonder, then, that Civil Rights Day is also known as Martin Luther King Jr. day.

In this article, you will find everything pertaining to Civil Rights Movement History. From ‘When did the Civil Rights Movement Start’ and ‘What are Civil Rights’, we have the answers to all these questions, and more.

We owe a great deal indeed, to Martin Luther King Jr. After all, the hard work he did to champion the rights of African Americans, inspired just about everyone, who found themselves on the fringes of society.

Before we begin to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement and how it all started, it might be wise to ask ourselves the following question:

‘Do we ‘truly’ know What are Civil Rights?’

Civil Rights: The Definition

We seem to have a good sense these days of the concepts of Diversity and Inclusivity. To understand how they came to the forefront, we must return to ages past.

We know Who Started the Civil Rights Movement, but what ‘are’ Civil Rights, to begin with?

In layman’s terms, Civil Rights can be defined as the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms granted to people by their government, that are protected by the law.

The power these rights bestow to people, is the Right to receive Equal Treatment in all kinds of Settings.

Civil Rights: Types

Now that we have a general idea of what Civil Rights entail, the time has come to take a look at their Types.

The most important Civil Rights that should be available to all citizens are the following:

  • Right to Life
  • Right to Education
  • Right to Practice your Religion of Choice
  • Right to Freedom of Thought and Expression
  • Right to Justice

Civil Rights Movement: History

Civil Rights Day is celebrated on the third Monday of every year. In 2024, Civil Rights Day will fall on Monday, the 15th of January.

When did the Civil Rights Movement start, you might ask? To answer that, it’s time to take a deep dive into the history of Civil Rights Day.

Civil Rights Day is observed to celebrate the movement to abolish racism. A movement that was spearheaded by none other than the great Martin Luther King Jr. However, its roots go way back. To a time when the Europeans came to America looking for Spice, and instead found Gold and Silver!

That was only the beginning of a long period of ‘forced slavery’. Who were those people who were forced to become slaves, you might ask? They were none other than the original inhabitants of America – the Aztecs and Incas, amongst others.

Slavery found its peak at the time of the American Civil War. While it might have been abolished post the war, nothing truly changed. African Americans were being treated disproportionately, more than ever. That too, at a time when the Constitution proclaimed ‘equal rights’ for one and all!

It was only in the year 1954, that Martin Luther King Jr. laid the foundations of the Civil Rights Movement. Its goal? Putting a full stop to things like racial segregation and brutality!

Regrettably, Martin Luther King Jr. was brutally assassinated by James Earl Ray in the year 1968. However, the seeds of freedom that he had erstwhile firmly planted, bore fruit. His assassination caused a ‘revolution of sorts’, with riots breaking out in every state.

Only a few years later, since 1971 that is, the Civil Rights Day saw its inception as a National Holiday. Of course, as a way of paying rich tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., and his incredulous efforts in championing the Civil Rights Movement.

Civil Rights Day: Activities

Apart from this great freedom fighting stalwart, there have been several other noteworthy humanitarians over the passage of time. The following are the names of some of the greatest Civil Rights Activists of all time.

  • Mahatma Gandhi (India)
  • Nelson Mandela (South Africa)
  • Cesar Chavez (USA)
  • Muhammad Yunus (Bangladesh)
  • Desmond Tutu (South Africa)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt (USA)
  • Jose Ramos-Horta (Timor-Leste)

Civil Rights Day: Facts about the Civil Rights Movement

The idea of ‘freedom’ engenders in us a feeling like no other. Like the feeling every Indian gets, when they hear their national anthem being played.

Here are some Civil Rights Day Facts, to inspire you even further. After all, Martin Luther King Jr. also famously proclaimed,

‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

  • Rosa Parks, another famous American Civil rights activist, refused to give up her seat for a white passenger. This only sparked a slew of protests, to hasten the civil rights reforms.
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech we talked about earlier, marked the crescendo of the Civil Rights Movement. It was delivered in the midst of a massive demonstration in Washington D.C., to protest against racial discrimination.
  • The Civil Rights Movement saw its culmination in one of its greatest successes in the year 1965. This was when Congress abolished the Voting Rights Act, subsequently leading to an increased number of African Americans going to the polls.
  • In the 1890s, the Jim Crow Laws were the ones that caused all the trouble. They were laws that helped States ‘segregate the Blacks from the Whites.’

At EuroKids, we are of the opinion that children should be encouraged to learn the importance of days like Civil Rights Day. They form opportunities to impress upon young kids the importance of standing up for what they believe is right. Just like the great Martin Luther King Jr., of course!