MLK's Speech and Its Effect on Local Civil Rights Movement

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MLK's Speech and Its Effect on Local Civil Rights Movement

The white man won’t hand out integration on a silver platter.

The history of the civil rights is often told on the national scale or following well-known figures and direct-action events such as the sit-in campaign and Rosa Parks’ famous stand on a Montgomery bus. More recently, historians have focused their research on the local level, revealing events that are not prominent, but integral to the larger scale history of civil rights in the United States. Although national power determined the “deliberate speed” of desegregation legislation, local communities determined the actual speed in which they would be enforced. Some communities pressed for immediate social change
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Following the momentum of the boycott, King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with the purpose of enabling “the region’s Negro leaders to plan activities parallel to those of the NAACP.” The first goal of the organization was to register two million new Negro voters before the 1960 presidential election and King began the summer of 1958 travelling to spread the message of equality and nonviolence throughout the nation. One week prior to King’s speech in Columbus, his request to meet with President Dwight Eisenhower in order to address the President’s “recent plea for continued patience” and previous promises “to meet with Negro leaders” was accepted, and the conference enjoyed moderate media attention. On May 29, 1958, King, along with Lester Granger of the National Urban League, Roy Wilkins of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, shared time with the President to discuss the rights of Negro Americans. The meeting was ultimately unproductive and King immediately assessed the meeting with Eisenhower: “I think he believes it would be a fine thing to have an integrated society but I think he probably feels that the more you push it, the more tension it will create so you just wait 50 or 100 years and it will work itself out. I don’t think he feels like being a crusader for integration.” Although King was clearly despondent about

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