Topic: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955)


Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955)

The Purpose of the Speech

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was an incident that occurred in December, 1994 in Montgomery, Alabama. It was a solidarity protest against the arrest of Rosa Parks for defying a routinely order to surrender her sit in the bus to a white person. This protest was orchestrated by a 26 year old pastor, Martin Luther King Junior. He was at the time ministering at a Baptist church in Montgomery (King, 1).

The preparation and the final reading of the speech by Martin Luther King Junior was the height of years of oppression, segregation and blatant discrimination against the black community by the white citizens of the United States of America. Apparently, the U.S citizens of the African descents were subjected to a number of humiliations, intimidations and oppressions by their white counterparts. Hence the document came at a time when the need to address these concerns were more biting. The expulsion of Rosa Parks from the Montgomery Bus only revitalized the civil rights movement (King, 1).

The preparation of this speech by Martin Luther King Junior presented an opportunity for him to advance his Christian ideologies and endure the masses to the teachings of the Jesus Christ. As reported in his speech, Martin Luther King Junior stated that “…We are Christian people. We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus.” The author could have written this speech to help liberate the people by raising their conscience to the fact that their fundamental human rights were being violated. In addition, he wanted to plead with them to adapt to the teachings of Jesus Christ. But on the contrary, it put him at a danger of frequent brawls with the law enforcement authorities. As a pastor, he also stood a risk of being branded as an activist rather than a true defender of the teachings of Jesus which called for tolerance, perseverance and patience.

The author has clearly demonstrated his thesis in this speech. He has stated that “…we are here in a general sense because first and foremost we are American citizens and are determined to apply our citizenship to the fullness of its meaning” (Simkin, 1).


This speech is trying to awaken the conscience of the masses to the prevailing circumstances in their society. Martin Luther King Jr. intended to inform the masses that they have been undergoing humiliations, intimidations, oppressions and sheer discrimination in the hands of the whites. This, according to him is out of the white man’s perceptions that Negroes are less human being. It was therefore upon them to make a decision that enough was indeed enough. It had reached that point in time that the black race had to make a decision on whether to continue being oppressed or to say No to further humiliations at the hands of the white people.

The author reminds the masses that their protest to the oppressions has only been possible because the United States is a country that believes in freedom and democracy. Were they to be in other countries especially the communists ones, their incarcerations could have persisted because of the lack of democracy and freedom in those countries. This is aimed at encouraging them to take advantage of this rare opportunity and show up solidarity in the defiance of humiliations, oppressions and intimidations. But they are cautioned to protest peacefully because, according to Martin Luther, they were peace lovers. This seems to be a strategy to keep a way from trouble from the security authorities. The use of the Bible text references in the speech could also been a strategy to endure the masses to the Christian teachings and interpretation of such events.

The intended audience in the text is the oppressed, humiliated, intimidated and often abused in the society. This group is largely drawn from the black community of the U.S during the 1960s. They are also Christians who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. With this composition of the evidence, the rhetoric strategy would be easily accomplished because indeed these people are undergoing these forms of vices against them.

The prevailing circumstances in the United States then, make the assertions of the author very credible and hence boosts their reliability. During this time in history, the black community indeed underwent torturous experiences in the hand of their white counterparts. The expulsion and further arrest of Rosa Parks from a Montgomery bus was a clear demonstration of this. We know of cases where the black community was forbidden from participating in elections.

In this speech however, Martin Luther explicitly demonstrated the rationality of their action of the protest. He said that the previous Thursday before the speech, one of the finest Montgomery nationalities in the name of Rosa Parks, was expelled from a bus before being arrested and taken to jail. Her supposed mistake was defying an order to surrender her bus sit to a white person.

Martin Luther King further reiterates that their action can never be wrong because they are in the same course with Supreme Court and God. This is because the Supreme Court is an institution that seeks to deliver justice and fairness to all. Incidentally that is all that they want-justice and fairness. On His part, God is a merciful person who created all human beings in His own image and likeness. We are therefore all equal before Him. No human being therefore possesses an authority to treat other human beings as less equals (King, 1).


Martin Luther King’s ideas were informed by the goings on of the times then. Much has changed over time. The kind of stereotype that the whites had against the whites has immensely receded. This does not mean that we cast aspersions on the intents of the author. His actions and speeches helped electrify the civil rights movements. In fact the United States is currently governed by a black President. This is of course hugely owed to the contributions of such activisms (King, 1).

However his speech could not be of very much relevance on the present day activism. This is because he tended to focus so much on Christianity and its values. He even quoted the Bible to color his speeches. Today, the world has become so much multi religious that such a huge mass of people would most likely be of mixed religions (Simkin,1).

Work Cited

King, Martin Luther. Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956) . Accessed from:<http://mlk-
1956/>. On 15 March 2012 Web. .d
Simkin, John. Montgomery Bus Boycott. Accessed from:
<>. on 15 March 2012 Web. 2003

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