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African Americans Freedom Struggle

African Americans Freedom Struggle

1) From Martin Luther King Jr., Speech at Montgomery, Alabama (December 5, 1955)On the evening of Rosa Parks’s arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white passenger, a mass rally of local African-Americans decided to boycott city buses in protest. In his speech to the gathering, the young Baptist minister Martin Luther King Jr. invoked Christian and American ideals of justice and democracy—themes he would strike again and again during his career as the leading national symbol of the civil rights struggle.

2) From The Southern Manifesto (1956)
Drawn up early in 1956 and signed by 96 southern members of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Southern Manifesto repudiated the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education and ofered support to the campaign of resistance in the South. The unwarranted decision of the Supreme Court in the public school cases is now bearing the fruit always produced when men substitute naked power for established law. . . .

Questions
1. How do religious convictions shape King’s definition of freedom?
2. Why does the Southern Manifesto claim that the Supreme Court decision is a threat to constitutional government?
3. How do these documents illustrate contrasting understandings of freedom in the wake of the civil rights movement?

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How do religious convictions shape King’s definition of freedom?

Martin Luther King emerged as one of the top champions of freedom and justice in the 20th century. His activism was largely shaped by his faith, and he would often refer to religious teachings in his speeches. In this particular speech at Montgomery, he applies religion to strengthen his argument for the freedom of African Americans. King severally alludes to the Christian biblical teachings to prove that freedom is a necessity for all human beings. His speech implies that the African American’s quest for freedom is not tied to deviant behavior as per the popular belief during the period. King emphasizes the fact that the arrested woman, Mrs. Rosa Parks, was not only a person of a fine character but also a Christian (King 1). Her being a Christian outlaws any possibilities of being a deviant person. This implies that even the African-Americans who had converted to Christianity deserved freedom. King states that African Americans have no intention of harming the white Americans and that if they are wrong, then “God Almighty is also wrong” (King 1). King’s unwavering understanding of religion makes him believe that true religion advocated for freedom for all. Most religions globally teach about the equality of all human beings. As a result, using religion was a great strategy in affirming King’s argument for freedom for the African-Americans. King was convinced that God would not be wrong, and if they were following his teachings, they too were right for demanding freedom.

Why does the Southern Manifesto claim that the Supreme Court decision is a threat to constitutional government?

How do these documents illustrate contrasting understandings of freedom in the wake of the civil rights movement?

Works Cited

Balcı, Hüdaverdi and Fatih Balcı. “Strategic nonviolent conflict: The Montgomery Bus.” International Journal of Human Sciences 8.2 (2011): 314-326.

Driver, Justin. “Supremacies and the Southern Manifesto.” Texas Law Review 92.1053 (2014): 1053-1135.

King, Martin Luther. “Speech at Montgomery, Alabama.” 1955.

“The Southern Manifesto.” 1956.

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