Behind The News

Episode 24 - 'I Have A Dream'

Martin Luther King - American Activist

Born in 1929, in the southern US state of Georgia, Martin Luther King grew up in a time where racial discrimination was an every-day occurrence. In those days, black and white people were separated by unjustifiable laws. For example, blacks and whites were not permitted to go to the same schools or restaurants, and blacks did not have the right to sit in the front section of the bus. Naturally, there were many protests, though most of them peaceful. There were also leaders such as Rosa Parks, who became nationally famous when she refused to give up her seat to white passengers.

Martin Luther King believed in using non-violent strategies to fight racial inequality. In 1963 he led protests in Birmingham, Alabama. Police arrested thousands of protesters, including Martin, shocking many of the public. As a result, his support and cause grew. Later that year, he spoke to crowds of around 300,000 in the country’s capital, requesting for an end to racism.

"I have a dream that one day this nation would rise up.” - Martin Luther King

It had an effect on many countries where people were judged by the colour of their skin. In Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were also being given the same treatment as the people in America- they also were confronted with racial discrimination. His words inspired Charlie Perkins, an Aboriginal activist, to lead protests and help change attitudes and the Constitution.

Back in America, laws in the US also changed. Segregation ended and in 1964 Martin was given the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in Civil Rights Movement. Sadly, in 1968 he was shot and killed while preparing to make a speech. Although he had died, the severity of racial discrimination eased and people who had different coloured skin achieved many magnificent things.

People all over the world, especially in the US, acknowledge the dream of a great man and the many people who helped stop racism.