Martin Luther King, Jr.: An Extraordinary Legacy

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Shannon Furtak

Each January, we celebrate the life of a man who had a tremendous impact on race relations in the United States. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a civil rights activist and a Baptist minister. Though his life was cut far too short by an assassin's bullet in 1968, the ideals he embodied, his methods of peaceful protest, and his visions for a future without racism are still admired and discussed today.

Dr. King first entered the public spotlight after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama in December of 1955. Leaders of the NAACP met with Dr. King and other local civil rights activists, and they planned a citywide bus boycott. This boycott eventually led to the end of mandated segregated public transportation in Montgomery.

In January of 1957, after recognizing the need for a national organization to help coordinate the efforts to achieve civil rights for African-Americans in the United States, Martin Luther King Jr. helped to found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. His dedication to the principles of non-violence were in part inspired by Gandhi, and Dr. King in turn inspired non-violent protests throughout segregated areas of the country. The sit-in movement, which occurred in 1960, was successful in ending lunch counter segregation in 27 southern cities. Dr. King continued to lead peaceful protests and civil rights demonstrations until he was killed in 1968 by James Earl Ray, who was apprehended and sentenced to 99 years in prison, where he eventually died in 1998.

HeinOnline contains a wealth of information on Dr. King. A catalog search for "Martin Luther King" reveals a list of several titles, including this multi-part Congressional hearing set titled Investigation on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Search the Law Journal Library for "Martin Luther King" and sort the results by Number of Times Cited by Articles to view the most-cited material:

The first article in this list is cited by more than 1,000 subsequent journal articles. Changing the sort-by method to Number of Times Accessed (Past 12 Months) will reveal this most-accessed article, which has been accessed nearly 3,100 times in the past 12 months. The article's title, Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics, reflects important issues pertaining to race and discrimination that our society still encounters today.

Dr. King played a crucial role in the creation of both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The full text of both acts are available in the United States Statutes at Large library in HeinOnline. To find additional materials on these acts, enter the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library and use the database version of Source of Compiled Legislative Histories to find other material available on the law.

For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is public law number 88-352. Using the Browse by Congress option, navigate to the 88th Congress:

From there, locate public law number 88-352 and click the title of the act to view a list of available material:

Included in the list are multiple law journal articles and several compiled legislative histories, including this 11 volume set:

Expand the Cumulative Contents of this set to view all available documents.

Undoubtedly, Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy will live on indefinitely.

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