Martin Luther King Jr.
On January 1, 1929 Michael Luther King Jr. was born in his family home in the booming Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, GA; shortly after, King’s name was changed to Martin Luther King Jr. He was educated in many segregated schools and received his high school diploma from Booker T. Washington High School at an early age. By the time he was 15, young Martin Luther King Jr. enrolled in Morehouse College where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree by 1948. Afterwards, King spent three years at the Crozier Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and then finally receiving his Doctorates after studying at Boston University in 1955 where he met his future wife Coretta Scott King.
Afterwards, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spent time as a head member of the NAACP in Montgomery, AL. From there, King used non-violent protests as a means to enact civil changes. By 1955, he became the leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, which lasted for 381 days where African American communities abstained from utilizing city buses as transportation—a boycott that resulted in significant financial losses for bus companies. By the end of 1956, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled the segregation of buses unconstitutional. King was commissioned the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference by 1957, which had further worked on desegregation initiatives and as well as African American voter registrations.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled extensively where he gave numerous lectures nationwide. A capstone of his works was his “I have a Dream” speech given at the famous March on Washington demonstration that gathered 250,000 peaceful protesters. In 1963 King was deemed Time Magazine’s Man of the Year and by 1964, he was the youngest man in history to have won a Nobel Peace Prize. King’s aided aided in the passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Acts which ended segregation and gave voting rights to African Americans in the United States.
King did face adversity. He underwent much harassment throughout his peace works such as the bombing of his home, the stabbing of him in the chest at a book signing, as well as imprisonment. The rising of the “Black Power”, a slogan that called for a use of force for the protection of African American communities, was a rival to Dr. King’s non-violent protests methods. He also attempted to reach out to more African American communities in Northern cities, which were being plagued with riots. King also had a plan for another march in Washington D.C for the purpose of signifying the poverty issues in the U.S. On the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s efforts were curtailed; and on April 4, 1968, King was assassinated.
His legacy continues. King is remembered for his non-violent approach to the radical change of the structure of the United State’s society that was crippled with racism and inequalities. Today, King is a symbol of the success of many peaceful initiatives that were set forth for the betterment of colored peoples and society as a whole. Coretta Scott King, his wife, opened the King Center that to this day works on the education and further applications of King’s vision. And on every third Monday of January, King’s efforts are honored with a national U.S holiday.
• New Georgia Encyclopedia
• LSU Libraries
• Encyclopedia Britannica