Martin Luther King's Traffic Ticket Changed History's Course

May 4, 2020

On this day 60 years ago, a black man driving a white woman was pulled over in a traffic stop that would change the course of American history. 

That man was Martin Luther King Jr., and his misdemeanor citation on May 4, 1960, led to him being sentenced, illegally, to a chain gang. Georgia’s segregationist politicians sought to silence King before he could mobilize great masses of people.

But it backfired when John F. Kennedy got involved, days before the 1960 presidential election. Black voters switched from Republican to Democrat in huge numbers, hastening the end of race laws across the South.