It's been 40 years since the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. energized a large crowd in the University of Dayton Fieldhouse, but the struggle for civil rights continues. Racial equality remains a piece of America's unfinished democracy.
Most Americans remember where they were when King was assassinated. Since the organization of the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955-56, King had become a household name in America. For more than a dozen years, he was a major leader in America's fight against racism, discrimination and injustice.
America, in the 1960s, was a country on the brink. It was a tumultuous time. Race riots in cities such as Birmingham, Newark, Selma, Detroit, Dayton and others confirmed that democracy was still an elusive dream for the nation's largest minority.
In the midst of the problems, King put together a broad coalition to fight the war against racism. Th is coalition transcended racial boundaries, cut across class lines and appealed to all Americans to bring an end to the racial injustice endemic to America's social and economic landscape. King's tactics desegregated buses, lunch counters and other public areas. He marched with hundreds of thousands on Washington, D.C., organized the Poor People's Campaign, sought alliances with world leaders, won the Nobel Peace Prize and called for the radical redistribution of economic wealth. He dedicated his life to calling attention to the lives of the poor and the oppressed.
Copyright © 2004, University of Dayton
University of Dayton
Place of Publication
Amin, Julius A., "America’s Unfinished Democracy: The Struggle for Black Racial Equality" (2004). History Faculty Publications. 109.