Martin Luther King was a pivotal figure in American life during a time of extreme transformation of society, the 1960s. This was the period following the violent assassination of a president (JFK) and later, his brother Robert Kennedy, as well as the Vietnam War, women's struggle for rights, and mass migration of African-Americans to northern cities. The passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 attempted to put into law protections for individuals who had faced social, political and economic discrimination, and King at the forefront of that movement. Like Ghandi, King was able to preach a positive message--the equality of all citizens, particularly equal protection in a land of laws. His counterparts in the civil rights movement had some success with messages of overcoming oppression, but none had the King's universal appeal. Malcolm X, for example, attempted to unify the black community with a message of pride in their African heritage and rejecting white norms such as Christianity. But Malcolm X's message was threatening not only to the powerful elite, but to many ordinary citizens. King, conversely, appealed to white society with a message of spirituality founded in the Bible, a doctrine white America could relate to. King preached peace, used non-violent protest, and stood behind the rule of law. His leadership unified at a time when unification was desperately needed. Ultimately, King was a realist; he preached about the promised land and how "I may not get there with you" (prophesying his early death), but within his realism was a profound faith in law, civility and spirituality. King had the right message at the right time, when violence was playing itself out across society from the riots in Watts (and many other large cities) to the Black Panther movement to sit-ins on college campuses. His non-violent beliefs were consistent with his actions through all of it, and his message of peace and unity still resonates among many Americans today.