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The Struggle for Equal Rights: Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony was also a civil rights leader. Anthony was mainly an advocate for women's rights, while King was an advocate for African-American rights. Beyond civil treatment, King and Anthony expressed an interest in African-American rights since Anthony was a staunch advocate of slavery abolition. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony was unwavering in their advocacy for human justice because they both believed strongly in the cause for which they struggled, as shown by their acts, which included being imprisoned for breaking laws in support of civil disobedience. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony was tied together by the cause of African-American civil rights. King by his work to gain equal rights for the African-Americans who had been freed by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation but remained repressed in the Jim Crow South, and Anthony by her work as an abolitionist in the pre-Civil War period. Anthony believed that “slavery has nothing to do with the Bible or the Constitution, but was truly a battle within the conscience” (University of Richmond). This statement shows how deeply Anthony felt about the cause of abolition of slavery. She realized that it was not merely a matter of laws but a matter for each person to contemplate themselves. Each was also jailed in support of civil disobedience related to their respective causes. King was jailed many times but most notably after his civil rights march in Birmingham, Alabama in early 1963 (Library of Congress) and Anthony was jailed in 1872 after casting a ballot in the 1872 Presidential Election (Linder).

Considering the speeches which are the thrust of this essay, both King and Anthony are speaking of fundamental rights of all citizens and focusing in specifically on one group, African-Americans for King and women for Anthony. Their focus in speaking about equal rights for African-Americans and women starts out quoting the documents which are the foundation of their respective movements, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States of America. In his speech, King notes that even though the Emancipation Proclamation had fundamentally given freedom to the negro slaves, even 100 years after that “the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination” (King). Anthony makes several references to the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution in her speech. In making her point about women’s suffrage, Anthony quotes the preamble to the U.S. Constitution and then states;

“It was we, the people, not we, the white male citizens, nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed this Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings or liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people-women as well as men” (Linder).

Both King and Anthony felt very strongly that their struggles were righteous and worthy of the time and effort that they put in on behalf of African-Americans and women.

Both Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony believed to a level deep within their souls that the causes for which they fought were worth the struggles which they endured and they would do anything to advance their respective causes even going as far as suffering incarceration to make their point. It is because of these two individuals that the causes of African-Americans and women have been advanced and brought out from the recesses of society where they once laid dormant. Many people in the United States, including recent Presidents and presidential candidates owe their freedom to pursue that high office to Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony, pioneers in ending discrimination in the United States.

Works Cited

King, Martin Luther, Jr. “Transcript of speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963. Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.” Analytic Tech website. http://www.analytictech.com/mb021/mlk.htm. Accessed April 30, 2017.

Library of Congress. “King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Library of Congress. http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/king/aa_king_jail_1.html. Accessed April 30, 2017.

Linder, Douglas O. “Address of Susan B. Anthony.” Famous Trials website. http://www.famous-trials.com/anthony/444-home. Accessed April 30, 2017.

University of Richmond. “Susan B. Anthony Asks People to Sympathize with Slaves.” University of Richmond website. https://historyengine.richmond.edu/episodes/view/4524. Accessed April 30, 2017.

October 20, 2021
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