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Home > History home > Prospective students > Undergraduate > Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, 1955-1968
More in this section SecondandThird Year Courses

Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, 1955-1968


Value: one unit


Dr Dawn-Marie Gibson


Taught through weekly two-hour seminars


3-hour exam (90%), oral presentation (10%)

'Martin didn't make the movement, the movement made Martin' noted veteran civil rights activist Ella Baker. Baker's perceptive comments strike at the very heart of contemporary historiographical debates. On the one hand, scholars have increasingly viewed the mass black movement for civil rights in the United States as a grassroots phenomenon that was rooted in local communities and based upon local leadership and local needs. On the other hand, scholars still emphasise the vital national leadership role played by Martin Luther King, Jr. in the civil rights struggle, particularly from the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott to King's 1968 assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. This course looks at both strands of this scholarship and seeks to assess the dynamics of the movement at both local and national levels, and to examine the tensions that often existed between them, as well as addressing the central controversies and debates surrounding King’s movement leadership.


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