Martin Luther King Jr. was a social activist and Baptist minister, who was born in 1929. He was the one who played a key role in the Civil Rights Movement of American from the mid-1950s. He was inspired by different leaders who were the advocates of nonviolence, such as King Sought and Mahatma Gandhi. He wanted a better living standard for the African Americans, who were not allowed to eat good food, wear good dresses, study in good institutions, and could not do any better job. In the 1950s, African Americans were the victim of injustice in American, and the Black Americans made their groups and started protesting movements for the civil rights of the African Americans. At that time Martin also played his role for the civil rights of African Americans.
Martin acted so bravely and was a driving force of different movements and events, such as Montgomery Bus Boycott and Washington March. These efforts of the Black Americans proved to be fruitful for the African Americans and became the cause of the development of legislation as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Civil Rights Act of 1964. Martin did so much for the African Americans and for his efforts he was awarded Noble Peace Prize in 1964. After his efforts, the Americans used to remember his struggles and used celebrate the federal holiday on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (History.com).
Martin Political Interest
In the 1950s, the African Americans were treated as slaves, and White Americans used to show their power on African Americans. The African Americans were not allowed to sit in the public transport with the White Americans, and they were considered to be the worst creature in human kind. The children of Black Americans were suffering a lot. They were not allowed to get an education in good institutions and to learn new activities. The women of Black Americans were treated as slaves. Men used to work for more than 18 hours per day at very less wage to fulfill the family requirements.
In such era, it was really important for Black Americans to come together and to start any movement for their rights. Without their struggles, they could never achieve any position in the society, and they had no other option but to live in America so they had to stand for the civil rights of Black Americans and especially for the education of Black American children because without it the children could never achieve any target in their lives. At that time Martin also took an interest in the politics and thought to do something for the Black Americans. The Black churches played a vital role in order to establish the groups of Black Americans for the protesting movements. The religious leaders became the political leaders and started to gather all Black Americans to protest for the civil rights of Black Americans and to understand their position in America.
MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT
Mr. Martin was living in Montgomery for less than a year when the incident of Rosa Parks happened. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks were traveling in a public bus in which a White American forced him to leave his seat, but he refused to do so because it was his civil right to sit on the public transport’s seat. In return, the bus driver forced him to give up for bus seat and called the police. The police arrested the Rosa for creating violence, and this gave rise to the protest movements in African Americans. At that time all African American Activists coordinated a boycott with the name bus boycott that continued for 381 days. In this protest, Martin Luther King Jr. played a vital role and acted as the leader of the protestors and official spokesman.
Poetry Provokes the Nations:
People consider that when the nations fight for their freedom or the civil rights, then the main role is being played by the politicians, leaders, and activists. However, along with them the poets and the singers also play a vital role to awake the people to stand for their rights. Especially the poetry plays with the emotions of the people and emotionally provokes the people to fight for their rights. Different poets use the power of their words and writing to touch the emotions of the nations, and their touchy lyrics motivates them to fight for their freedom. In this way, the poetry plays a vital role to provoke the nations for their freedom fights.
The poetry is the greatest weapon used to express the feeling and the situation of the people. The poets, who are willing to wake the nations for the freedom fight or the fight for their rights, use the lyrics which describe their present condition and touchy situation. The power of the lyrics greatly influences the nations and makes them able to realize that how are they living and how can they stand for their better future. As a poet provoked the African Americans to stand for their civil rights by the following lyrics;
We don’t wear silver stars and moons
embroidered on our clothes;
we never wear those pointy shoes
they’re murder on the toes
Poetics and Politics:
At that time, when Martin was working hard for the civil rights of the African Americans and was conducting different marches and was working as the social activist then different poets also worked with him to motivate the African Americans and to encourage them for the protest movements with the help of the power of their writings. In such poets, Maya Angelou was the one who was an acclaimed American poet, activist, storyteller, and autobiographer. Angelou is famous as a singer, actress, dancer, Hollywood’s director, composer, writer, essayist, editor, playwright, and especially as a poet. She also belonged to the African American family, and so she also participated in civil rights movements and worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and served as the professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. In 1975, she wrote the poem, “The New Generation,” by which she became highly recognized as women writing for the blacks and women and motivating them for their rights. As she stated in the poem,
Wizards look like everyday folk
despite what you’ve been told.
We don’t have long white whiskers
nor are we very old
With her poetry, she motivated the black women to stand for their rights and to be aware of their social values (Ebony).
Poetry as Activism
Different poets worked as the activist with the Martin Luther to gain civil rights for the African Americans. A poet was Joan Baez who was the closest friend of Martin Luther King Jr., and she worked with Martin in the Civil Rights Movement of the America. She worked as poet, singer, and activist and also motivated the black Americans with her poetry. He provoked the importance of freedom for human beings by using the motivational lyrics of her poetry and music. She also played a vital role during the Washington March with the Martin Luther King Jr. during this march, she not only performed so well as great social activists, but also a great motivational poet and singer.
Poetry, Pain, and Meanings:
- We really cool. We
- Left school. We
- Lurk late. We
- Strike straight. We
- Sing sin. We
- Thin gin. We
- Jazz June. We
- Die soon
This poetry is written by Gwendolyn Brooks (Brooks) who was also an African-American poet and used to write poetry for the Blacks. In his poetry, the pain is the clear indication of the African American’s condition in America. at that time they were treated as slaves and were forced to leave their school. They were not allowed to enjoy their lives rather they had to work day and night, and most of them were dead while working for the White Americans due to hard work and hunger. In this way, the poetry helps the reader to understand the pain of the nations, and by their words, they make the nation able to understand their situation and to stand for their rights (Harris).
From this study, it is clear that the poetry plays a vital role in almost every field of life. Somewhere it helps to express the love, or sometimes it helps to show the sadness of the poet, but the poetry becomes most important when it is used as a weapon for the freedom fight of nations. Poetry helps the politicians to gather the people or to provoke the nation to understand their situation and to stand for their right. Simply poetry is not just a hobby, but also it is an art, it is a weapon of the activists.
Brooks, Gwendolyn. We Real Cool. 2016. 16 May 2017 <https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/we-real-cool>.
Ebony. “Maya Angelou.” Poetry Foundations (2016).
Harris, Trudier. “African American Protest Poetry.” National Humanities Societies (2017).
History.com. “Bet You Didn’t Know: March on Washington.” History.com (2017).