Throughout history human rights have been a very controversial subject. For as long as society has been alive there has always been a fight for basic human rights and equality. With tactics ranging from peaceful mass protests to people being brutally murdered to prove a point. One of the most nonviolent, successful human rights defenders was the very famous Martin Luther King Jr. Born Michael Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929. The middle child of three he was born into a very religious family, with his dad being the preacher of his local church.
King attended both high school and college, being educationally gifted he skipped two grades in high school. After high school he attended college for a Degree in Sociology and then later received his Doctorate in Theology from Boston University. He married Coretta Scott in 1953 and had four children with her. During this time in history the United States was still a very segregated and unequal country. Having segregation throughout all of society and widespread discrimination including organized groups like the KKK to suppress the African American population.
This led to Kings profound interest in racial equality and desegregation. King was very active in gaining equal rights for all U. S. citizens being involved in many protests, boycotts and movements. Kings overall goals he was working towards included helping put an end to poverty by ensuring everyone receives at least middle class wage. He also had a goal of ending discrimination against African Americans, this included desegregation and equal rights for all. He gained many African American supporters as well as the white population that believed in racial equality.
Although King was a very peaceful man he did however have run ins with the law including being arrested for protesting in Birmingham, Alabama after the court had ordered he could not have a protest in Birmingham. Some of the events King was involved in included the Civil Rights Movement which he led up until his early death. The Civil Rights Movement was a mass movement that supported racial equality. He also led a very famous boycott against the Montgomery Bus Service after a woman by the name of Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on one of their buses to a white man.
The boycott was seen as successful lasting over a year and ended with some positive results. Another one of King’s many movements included the March on Washington in 1963 gaining over 200,000 in attendance. The goal of the march was to gain jobs and freedom. Along with the goals the biggest turning point occurred, on August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. gave his most famous speech. The speech “I Have A Dream” brought even more attention to the Civil Rights Movement that had already been ongoing for many years.
This led to President Kennedy sending a Civil Rights Movement Bill to congress. In 1964 shortly after King gave his speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, he became the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35. King received the Nobel Peace Prize as a recognition of his persistence in gaining civil rights for African Americans. A couple years after some of the biggest moments in King’s lifetime between his famous “I Have A Dream” speech and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize he was assassinated in his hotel room January 15, 1929.
Although King lived a short life he was seen to be very successful in being one of the biggest driving forces in the Civil Rights Movement helping to gain African Americans more civil rights and the leader to the beginning racial equality. So in conclusion to King’s overall goals the tactics and methods that he used to achieve victory in what he was fighting for was very successful and started the beginning to the biggest turning point for African American rights and equality. In contrast to Kings very peaceful ways of fighting for what he wants Soviet Union leader Vladimir Lenin used a much different more violent actic. Born on April 10, 1870 in Simbirsk, Russia, Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov was born into a very well educated and highly cultured family. Lenin was very educationally gifted finishing first in his class and later attending Kazan University pursuing a degree in law. He was kicked out of college due to being involved in protesting against the monarchy. Early on in his life Lenin’s father was threatened with an early retirement by a suspicious government that was nervous about the influence public school had on Russian society.
This was the beginning to the slowly developed hatred towards the Russian Government. Lenin’s father however passes away making his older brother the man of the house. However in 1887 Lenin’s brother was arrested and executed for being involved in a group that was planning to assassinate the Emperor Alexander III. Although his brother was the most involved at some point Lenin and all of his siblings would take part in Revolutionary activities. After being kicked out of college Lenin was exiled to his grandparents estate where he immersed himself in a host of radical literature.
One book in particular Das Kapital written by the German philosopher Karl Marx had a very big impact on Lenin’s thinking. After reading this book in 1889 Lenin declared himself a marxist. Even though Lenin was expelled from college he did finally receive his law degree in 1892. After receiving his law degree he moved to Samara where he saw a class-biased legal system that reinforced his marxist beliefs. He eventually moved to St. Petersburg, Russia where he connected with many other marxists and began an active role in their activities.
Their work definitely did not go unnoticed and in December of 1895 several marxists including Lenin were arrested. Lenin was again exiled but to Siberia for three years where his wife joined him. After the start of the Russian Revolution Lenin became involved with a group called the Mensheviks. Led by Julius Martov the main goal of the group was to seize control of Russia. However they did not believe in Lenin’s idea of a complete knew government of a one-man dictatorship over the people he wanted to empower.
This caused Lenin to gather a smaller group known as the Bolsheviks that would help him pave his way to the dictatorship he longed. This caused a long time of war amongst the groups up until 1912 when Lenin decided to create a whole new entity. After World War I Russia was left tired and hungry Lenin, whom had had gone into exile during the war, started to put his mass plan of gaining power into motion. In 1917 Lenin led the October Revolution which was followed by a three year civil war. The October Revolution was a bloodless coup d’etat against the provisional government.
Lenin determined to win would do anything to gain his power. He launched what was referred to as the Red Terror, This was a ruthless campaign that would eliminate the civilian population that was against him. Lenin seemed to be unstoppable with the escape of an assassination attempt in 1918. He had a long recovery with his health never being the same again. Lenin eventually claimed what he had been seeking but now was faced with a famine and poverty stricken country to deal with after all the war they had been through. This caused many strikes in cities which threatened Lenin’s government.
He introduced a new economic policy that allowed workers to sell their grain on an open market. This seemed to be enough to stabilize the government again and help Lenin remain in power. Although Lenin had finally gotten what he fought for his health eventually got the best of him and on January 21, 1924 he passed. Lenin although successful in what he was trying to achieve was far from a human rights defender. He had the blood of a lot of innocent people on his hands that died in all of the ruthless methods and violent tactics he used.
With the violent tactics he used including leading one of the biggest Revolutions during the civil war left the country he soon took over in pieces. A broken society that could have maybe been spared with the use of different tactics, or a more nonviolent route. So in conclusion although both men were successful, there is a clear difference in the true, long lived outcomes of their tactics and methods. Let the examples in history of both the good and the bad help to continue the path towards complete equality of all.