Martin Luther King Jr.
Civil Rights Activist, Humanitarian, Minister (1929-1968)
Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights activist, philanthropist and American Baptist Minister. King evoked the civil rights movement, a nonviolent civil disobedience for the voting rights of African-American and formulation of civil rights act. In 1964, King was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolence movement against racial discrimination. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4 1968. King is most widely memorized for his famous speech “I Have a Dream”.
Childhood, Early life and Education
Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Martin Luther King Sr. a pastor and Alberta Williams King. Martin Luther King Jr. had two siblings an older sister Willie Christine King and a younger brother Alfred Daniel Williams King. Martin Sr. also spared no efforts to combat against racism. Martin Jr. was much inspired by his father and followed his footsteps, although in the beginning King did not want to join ministry but later on he changed his mind. King Jr. raised up in Atlanta and for his early education King enrolled in Booker T. Washington High School. Martin was an exceptional orator and always embarked on debate competitions. He had the skills to enamored the audience with his speech.
King joined Morehouse College by passing its entrance exam at the age of 15. King earned his graduate degree in Sociology from Morehouse College in 1948. King then for further study entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. In 1951, King acquired his graduate degree in Bachelor of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary. During study at Crozer, King distinguished himself with his exceptional valedictory skills and was also elected president of the student body. King registered to Boston university and earned his PhD. degree in systematic theology in 1955, after submitting his scholarly thesis on “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman”.
Personal Life and Religion
Martin Luther King Jr. during the study at Boston, came across Coretta Scott, who was a singer and studying music. They married in Alabama on June 18, 1953. They had four children Yolanda King (born. 1955), Martin Luther King III (born. 1957), Dexter Scott King (born. 1961), and Bernice King (born. 1963).
At the age of 25, King became pastor after his marriage in Alabama, in Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. King had a strong faith in Jesus Christ and God, and King’s citations regarding his faith are transpicuous in most of his speeches and meetings. While studying at Morehouse College, Benjamin E. Mays played an imperative role in building the King’s personality and discarnated his personality with spiritual guidance.
Martin Luther King Jr. Role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955
On March 2, 1955, a white man boarded on a Montgomery city bus and impetrated a 15-year-old school girl, Claudette Colvin to part with her seat but she repudiated and refused to give up her seat deference to the local law. Claudette Colvin was arrested and the NAACP delved into the case and decide not to pursue the case because the Colvin was pregnant and unmarried.
In the same year another case of same kind aroused when some white passengers boarded on to the bus and demanded the 42-year-old Rosa Parks, secretary of the NAACP local chapter, to give up her seat but she refused to do so and was arrested. The president of NAACP Local chapter E.D. Nixon, put his screws to boycott the Montgomery Bus city wide. King led the protest and the Boycott remained for 385 days with lot of violence and harassment to the protesters. King was arrested and sent to jail. The houses of E.D. Nixon and King were detonated.
The NAACP took the case into the court and after some vanquishments in the lower courts, they stood victorious to ended up the racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses and the Supreme Court ruled segregated seating on public buses unconstitutional in November 1956.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Formation of Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
After the Montgomery Bus Boycott King emerged as a great Civil right activist and leader and the Montgomery Bus Boycott success invigorated to the formation of Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957. King and some fellow ministers including Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttles worth, Joseph Lowery played a big role in the formation of SCLC. The SCLC was formed to harness the moral authority and to organize power of black churches. King as SCLC’s president traveled across the country and delivered lectures to urge people to conduct non-violent protests for the reformation of civil rights. King then traveled around the world and met with Civil rights as well as religious leaders. King during his trip to India, met with Gandhi’s family. King was much inspired by Gandhi and considered Gandhi as his “guiding light” and a source of inspiration for non-violent social change.
King as a SCLC president and leader, organized marches for the acquisition of African American’s basic civil rights, right to vote, desegregation and labor rights.
King’s Famous Speech “I Have a Dream”
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. organized the “March on Washington” against racial discrimination, partiality and injustice faced by the African Americans across the country. This was peaceful and non-violent march attended by more than 200,000 people. The march went over the mountain with King’s most famous and renowned speech “I Have a Dream”.King’s efforts against racism and nonviolent movement earned him with global fame. That year TIME magazine named King as the “Man of the Year” and in 1964 Martin Luther King Jr. became the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
On April 4, 1968, King was shot while standing on the second floor balcony of Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had traveled to support the strike of black sanitary public works employees. After emergency chest surgery, King died at St. Joseph’s Hospital at the age of 39. James Earl Ray a known racist was pleaded guilty to the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. The assassination of King provoked riots across the country. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. It was first celebrated on November 20, 1986. it is called Martin Luther King Jr. Day.