Through his non-violent ideology
Through his non-violent ideology, King shaped the methods of protest from 1955 onwards. After his being placed in the political limelight at the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Martin Luther King realised that while socially a large following was important to spread his message, he needed a larger political standing to pass the laws he wanted. Due to his peaceful manner, he gained indispensable support from politicians. This strengthened Martin Luther King’s position as most significant individual because he could go on to achieve many other legislations and continue an era of non-violent resistance. A prime example of this was the March on Washington, August 23rd 1963. An estimated 250000 people participated in the march, 60000 of whom were white. Here he delivered his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, where he spoke for legal racial equality.
The religious sermon ‘equated the civil rights movement with the highest and noblest ideals of the American tradition’. The effect of this moving speech, allowed the population to understand the gravity of racial harmony and equality making it incredibly valuable. The tone of the speech reminded the thousands of people listening of every black slave and what they were campaigning for. This was a symbolic act as he was standing on Lincoln’s memorial who defeated the south over slavery during the Civil War. Furthermore, within his speech, King left a legacy of Christianity building an even larger audience, especially in the south. This speech represented the collective, King was speaking for them through their dreams for equality, strengthening the source significantly.
This was a major achievement because the civil rights movement achieved its greatest successes. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed, which banned segregation in public areas and in 1965, the Voting Rights Act was passed which prohibits racial discrimination in voting. However, socially his reforms had little impact. In north America, African Americans did not associate with his Christian ethos, which had a major impact in the south. Furthermore, the laws he passed had little impact on the social climate. After the Voting Rights Act of 1965, many African Americans in the south were blackmailed and threatened into not voting and many schools remained all black and all white after they were desegregated. Therefore, while having a peaceful position would have had a major effect prior to Martin Luther King, by the 1950s, King’s aura was too amenable and unconvincing. This meant that people started to turn to more violent and extremist methods, such as Martin Luther King’s main opposition; Malcolm X.