By Linsey Tisdale
Civil Rights in the Sixties
Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a 17 minute speech on August 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to over 200,000 civil rights followers. This speech was polled in 1999 and ranked the top American speech of the 20th century. The King had a way of educating, inspiring, and informing people throughout the U.S. about civil rights. His speech was titled “I Have a Dream”, it is still one of the most well known speeches every given. The King would make sure to get his message across to the people and get news coverage at the same time.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”
- “I Have a Dream”, August 28, 1963
Martin Luther King, Jr. has been described several ways by several people throughout the years. In 1964, his was awarded the Noble Peace Prize for helping to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience, becoming the youngest person to receive the award. The media never knew what time the King would arrive, but they could always count on him to make an appearance, which gave television crews their coverage for the evening news programs. King knew well before he started leading demonstrations that news coverage on the evening television programs was vital to move public opinion. The images of officers using dogs and hoses to assault helpless Blacks, women, and children the nation was furious getting Congress to pass the 1964 Public Accommodations Act. The civil rights movement brought attitudes and exercise to a stop in the South.
On March 29, 1968, King went to Memphis to support the black sanitary public works employees; they had been on strike since March 12. They wanted better treatment and higher wages, instead of having to do without, like the whites. King spoke with the employee and then checked into his usually room 306. At 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, King was standing on his 2nd floor Balcony when a shot was fired hitting him in the right cheek only to lodge in his shoulder. Martin Luther King, Jr. was labeled as dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m. On April 4, King was shot to death by James Ray in his hotel in Memphis. President Johnson called a national day of mourning on April 7. In 1983 Congress declared the third Monday of every January Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Civil Rights in the Sixties
Public began putting pressure on Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act, after the television broadcasts and newspaper reports of the violence in Alabama when King was leading a voting rights drive. President Lyndon Johnson explained signing the bill into law as “one of the most monumental laws in the entire history of American freedom.” The Voting Rights Act ensured hundreds of thousands of Blacks the right to vote.
The media was always doing any and everything they could to find new information that would draw the public into the news programs. Southern Political figures would meet journalist at night, away from anyone that could identify anyone, to give the latest scoop on the Civil rights movement. Public exposure could put an end to Political figures future in culture. Some Blacks would plead guilty to a charge out of fear of the White panel of adjudicators. Before the 1960s, the press was content to cover civil rights as Top News instead of covering the difficulties Blacks had to face day in and day out.
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