12) Background to US National Figures: Martin Luther King & Abraham Lincoln for SAT’s Passage-based Reading Questions
In SAT’s passage-based reading, the most frequently mentioned figures in the passage are Martin Luther King, the leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, and Abraham Lincoln, the former President of USA. They are stated in many passages in SAT. Here are their short biographies:
Martin Luther King, Jr. became the predominant leader in the Civil Rights Movement to end racial segregation and discrimination in America during the 1950s and 1960s and a leading spokesperson for nonviolent methods of achieving social change. His eloquence as a speaker and his personal charisma, combined with a deeply rooted determination to establish equality among all races despite personal risk won him a world-wide following. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and was selected by Time magazine as its Man of the Year. His “I Have a Dream” speech, which is now considered to be among the great speeches of American history, is frequently quoted. His success in galvanizing the drive for civil rights, however, made him the target of conservative segregationists who believed firmly in the superiority of the white race and feared social change. He was arrested over 20 times and his home was bombed. Ultimately, he was assassinated on April 4, 1968, on the balcony of a motel where he was staying in Memphis. A monument to Dr. King was unveiled in the national capital in 2012.
Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 in Kentucky (USA). He worked on the farm of his father. He attended school for less than a year, but taught himself to read and write. He did different types of jobs before he settled as a highly successful lawyer. He was gradually drawn to politics.
The country was having problems regarding the practice of slavery. The white men owned large farms in the southern states, Blacks were brought from Africa to work on these farms, They were kept as slaves. The people of northern states were against this practice of slavery and wanted to abolish it, The Constitution of America is based on the equality of man. Therefore, there was no place for slavery in that country,
At this difficult time, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the USA in 1860. He wanted to solve the problem of slavery. The southern states were against the abolition of slavery. This brought the unity of the country in danger. The southern states were prepared even to form a new country. Abraham Lincoln wanted all the states to remain united.
He faced many problems. He wanted to preserve the unity of the country at any cost. Finally a civil war broke out between the northern and southern states. He fought the war bravely and declared, ‘A Nation cannot exist half free and half slave.’ He won the war and kept the country united.
Lincoln was elected president for a second term. He was not against anybody and wanted everybody to live in peace. He made sincere efforts to heal the people’s wounds caused by the war. In 1862, Lincoln declared that from then onwards all slaves would be free. This made him very popular among the people. Lincoln was assassinated in 1865.