In 1955 King entered the national spotlight when the 26-year-old organized the Montgomery bus boycott. The headlines illustrated the fierce anger and nationalism of the white population over his actions and growing popularity. However, his efforts against segregation in 1955 prompted the United States Supreme Court to issue a ruling to desegregate busses.In 1958, Reverend King suffered an attack from an unlikely assailant. Izola Ware Curry, the black daughter of sharecroppers suffering from mental illness, stabbed King in the chest with a letter opener while he was reading a copy of his own book “Stride Towards Freedom: The Montgomery Story”. He would make a full recovery and later recount this story in the famous “Mountaintop” sermon, the last he would deliver before his death in ’68.
Dr. King believed strongly in non-violent demonstrations to protest the injustices around him. His strong convictions and faith helped drive him forward. He traveled to India in 1959 to learn about the ways of Gandhi and the non-violent civil disobedience that defined his legacy.
In the tumultuous times of the 60s, MLK would continue to build a legacy of his own. As he had become the face of the Civil Rights movement, the world’s gaze was turned towards him. He was well aware that his actions, and those he led, were under a microscope.
The chasm between those who revered him and those who despised him was deep and wide. It seemed unbridgeable and growing. As anger gave way to even more violence, Dr.King implored all those who felt oppressed not to resort to violence, as it would fuel the rhetoric of those who spoke against them and would be met in kind.
However, the black community continued to be the victim of violence, blind hatred, and increasing hostility in the mid-60s.
We encourage you to explore your community’s history and share with us what you have discovered. Each city, county, and state had its own perspective, and it is important we continue to learn from one another.