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Northerners often depict the South as backwards and racist. During the Civil Rights Movement, the South gave the North plenty of reasons to feel superiors. Snarling dogs, skin bruising water hoses and lynch mobs didn’t help the South’s image. The South’s racism was on full display as African Americans from Virginia to Alabama and beyond fought for equality. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became the face of the movement.

In the South, King spearheaded efforts to integrate public spaces and he fought for voting rights. King, however, didn’t just fight racism in the South. He highlighted racism in the North as well. To read a traditional King bio, click here. To learn more about King’s efforts in the North read below.

Watch video of Mahalia Jackson singing at King’s funeral.

In one famous incident, King lead a fight to end housing segregation in Chicago — a mecca for blacks escaping the South. The march didn’t go well. In August 1966, King and his supporters marched in front of more than 4,000 angry white immigrants in southwest Chicago. The white mob called the 800 black marchers “cannibals,” and “savages” and stoned King.

He would later say, “I have seen demonstrations in the South, but have never seen anything so hostile and so hateful as I’ve seen here today.”

The incident showed that the South wasn’t the only bastion of racism that needed to change.

Below are King’s quotes about the fight to end racism everywhere:


“Let’s Not Fool Ourselves, we are far from the Promised Land, both north and south.”

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Watch this video of King’s “Letter From the Birmingham Jail.”

Our History Makers: Martin Luther King Jr.  was originally published on