PEOPLE IN AMERICA - January 20, 2002: Martin Luther King Jr., Part 1 By William Rodgers
Anncr: People in America - a program in Special English on the Voice of America. (Theme) Today, Warren Scheer and Shep O'Neal begin the story of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Junior. ((Theme)) VOICE 1: It all started on a bus. A black woman was returning home from work after a long, hard day. She sat near the front of the bus because she was tired and her legs hurt. But the bus belonged to the city of Montgomery in the southern state of Alabama. And the year was nineteen fifty-five. In those days, black people could sit only in the back of the bus. So the driver ordered the woman to give up her seat. But the woman refused, and she was arrested. Incidents like this had happened before. But no one had ever spoken out against such treatment of blacks. This time, however, a young black preacher organized a protest. He called on all black citizens to stop riding the buses in Montgomery until the laws were changed.
The name of the young preacher was Martin Luther King. He led the protest movement to end injustice in the Montgomery city bus system. The protest became known as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The protest marked the beginning of the civil rights movement in the United States. This is the story of Martin Luther King, and his part in the early days of the civil rights movement. VOICE 2: Martin Luther King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in nineteen-twenty-nine. He was born into a religious family. Martin's father was a preacher at a Baptist church. And his mother came from a family with strong ties to the Baptist religion. In nineteen twenty-nine, atlanta was one of the wealthiest cities in the southern part of the United States. Many black families came to the city in search of a better life. There was less racial tension between blacks and whites in Atlanta than in other southern cities. But Atlanta still had laws designed to keep black people separate from whites. The laws of racial separation existed all over the southern part of the United States. They forced blacks to attend separate schools and live in separate areas of a city. Blacks did not have the same rights as white people, and were often poorer and less educated. VOICE 1: Martin Luther King did not know about racial separation when he was young. But as he grew older, he soon saw that blacks were not treated equally. One day martin and his father went out to buy shoes. They entered a shoe store owned by a white businessman.
The businessman sold shoes to all people. But he had a rule that blacks could not buy shoes in the front part of the store. He ordered martin's father to obey the rule. Martin never forgot his father's angry answer: "If you do not sell shoes to black people at the front of the store, you will not sell shoes to us at all." Such incidents, however, were rare during martin's early life. Instead, he led the life of a normal boy. Martin liked to learn, and he