By challenging the significance of Martin Luther King from a social perspective, one can be retroactive and gain deeper knowledge of the many Grassroots activists prior to King and recognise their contribution in the fight for civil rights. A prime example of this was the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56. While Martin Luther King played a role in this event, the major change was due to the people, rather than the orator himself. W.E.B DuBois, who organised a variety of movements including the Niagara Movement of 1905 to 1907, the National Association of the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1909, and wrote a monthly publication called ‘The Horizon’. He is considered to many the ‘father of pan-africanism’. When regarding non-violent leaders, one has to note the number of activists who believed the best way to make a difference was through violent protests. For example, Marcus Garvey and his work during the 1920s and how his legacy inspired the work of Malcolm X in the late 1950s and 1960s. Looking even further back, one can gain a deeper understanding of the Civil Rights movement from an earlier period. Social reformer, abolitionist and orator, Frederick Douglass is to this day, considered ‘the most famous abolitionist to work for the emancipation’. On the other hand one has to understand the influence of others who were not activists. For example, Abraham Lincoln, whose influence lived on for the entire scope of this period. Each played a part in advancing American Civil Rights, however, where Martin Luther King symbolised the end of the Civil Rights movement, W.E.B DuBois was the face of the people, Frederick Douglass represented the overcoming of their struggles through an even darker period of American history.


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