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Martin Luther King was the political leader and the face of the Civil Rights Movement for many Americans. His influence, which was at first through the Southern Christian Leadership Council, was instrumental in both the strategy and the tactics of the movement. Perhaps most significantly, King and other like-minded leaders were able to persuade civil rights activists to adopt a stance of nonviolence. He also, through his speeches and writings, gave the civil rights movement a moral face, framing the movement, as he did in his famous speech to the March on Washington, in terms of liberties that all Americans could claim to believe in. King also, in comparison to other leaders, counseled a relatively moderate approach to civil rights, with rhetoric that emphasized unity and forgiveness that stood in contrast to the rhetoric of emerging black nationalist leaders.
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