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Martin Luther King, Jr. was born at noon on Tuesday, January 15, 1929, at his home in Atlanta, Georgia. He was first named Michael Luther King Jr. , and later changed his name to Martin, after his father. He was the first son and second child born to the reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. , and Alberta Williams King, a schoolteacher. In September 1935, Martin began his schooling at the all-black Yonge Street Elementary School in Atlanta.
Growing up as an African American in Georgia, Martin experienced and suffered much discrimination throughout his boyhood. This discrimination against black people was cruel and demoralizing. Martin Luther King Jr. told once of an experience he had riding a bus with his schoolteacher from Macon to Atlanta, the driver started cursing us out and calling us black sons of bitches. I decided not to move at all, but my teacher pointed out that we must obey the law.
So we got up and stood in the aisle the whole 90 miles to Atlanta. It was a night I ll never forget. I don t think I have ever been so deeply angry in my life. 1 There were many discriminatory laws in the South. They had certain restaurants that blacks were allowed to eat in, separate water fountains and separate bathrooms. Just about everything you can think of was segregated black from white One of his first experiences was with the curtains that were used on the dining cars of trains to separate the whites from the blacks.
This incident struck Martin pretty hard. He said, I felt just as if a curtain had come down across my whole life. The insult of it I will never forget. 2 Martin was an extremely bright student and skipped right through his high school years and on June 1944 entered Atlanta s Negro Morehouse College at age 15. His father encouraged him to study ministry, while he had his heart set on medicine or law.
Martin was embarrassed of his own religion. He didn t understand what all the shouting and stamping was all about. But after reading and rereading Thoreau s essay, Civil Disobedience, he came to the conclusion that the only way he could bring about his ideas on social protest was through ministry. In February 1948, Martin Luther King, Jr was ordained as a Baptist minister. After graduating from Morehouse College in June, he entered the Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania.
At Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, Rev. King studied the writings and teachings of many philosophers, such as Hegel and Kant, but the person that impressed him the most was Mohandas Gandhi, and he believed in nonviolent protest. On June 18, 1953, Rev. King married Coretta Scott, a young girl from Marion, Alabama. The marriage ceremony took place on the lawn of the Scott s home in Marion.
The reverend King, Sr. , performed the service, with only a few attending. The Kings had four children, Yolanda Denise King, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott King, and Bernice Albertine King. In October, l 954, the reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Church on Montgomery, Alabama. In June, 1955, Rev. King received his Ph.
D. in theology from Boston University. On November 17, 1955, Yolanda Denise King, the Kings first child, was born. On December 1, 1955, Dr. Martin Luther King launched his first big test of his new philosophy that he had learned from Gandhi. Also, on this same day, a black seamstress named Rosa Parks boarded a Montgomery bus and took a seat.
This was a bold and brave move on her part, as Mrs. Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man in segregated Montgomery, Alabama. As a result of the Rosa Parks incident, the civil rights movement was sparked. On December 5, 1955, Martin Luther King was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association and led a yearlong boycott of the Montgomery busses. As the Civil Rights Movement rolled to intensity, Dr. King took upon himself duties of both punishment and responsibility for his cause.
On January 26, 1956, he was arrested for the first time, for a traffic violation. On January 1957, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was founded with Dr. King chosen as president. In February 1959, Dr. King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, visited India.
They studied Mahatma Gandhi's methods of nonviolent protest. King modeled his approach to American civil rights after the pacifist and Indian civil-rights hero Gandhi. In January 1960, the King family moved to Atlanta, where Martin Luther King became co-pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father, Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. In February 1960, students in Greensboro, North Carolina, staged the first sit-ins at whites-only lunch counters. On October 19, 1960, Martin Luther King was jailed after being arrested at a sit-in at a lunch counter in Atlanta. On January 30, 1961, Dexter Scott King was born.
The year 1961 also saw intensified passive resistance by Dr. King and his followers. In May 1961, the Freedom Riders left Washington, D. C. , by Greyhound bus. The bus was burned by opponents of desegregation, and the riders wear beaten upon their arrival in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr.
King and the Civil Rights Movement began to receive government support by the newly inaugurated President John F. Kennedy. In September 1962, black student James Meredith attempted to enroll at the All-white University of Mississippi. This was the first bold attempt at desegregating American schools in the South. Federal marshals backed by national guardsmen [and President Kennedy] forced the University of Mississippi to accept the registration of James Meredith. This led to anti-Kennedyism in the South, directed not only at the president but also at his brother Robert, the attorney general. 3 On March 28, 1963 Bernice Albertine King was born.
On April 12, 1963, Martin Luther King was arrested and jailed (for the thirteenth time) during a march in Birmingham, Alabama. In May 1963, dogs and fire hoses were used by police in Birmingham to stop protests. To the disapproval of Southern democrats, President John F. Kennedy, as part of his administration, took a stand on civil rights, equality, and unemployment. Black demonstrations and white resistance in the South caused Kennedy to declare a moral crisis at home.
He called for legislation supporting equal rights for blacks. 4 Federal marshals and the National Guard were required for the admittance of one black college student into the University of Mississippi and two into the University of Alabama. In his televised address following the incident involving the two black students at the University of Alabama on July 11, 1963, President Kennedy expressed his feelings on the American Civil Rights Movement lead by Dr. King. He said, I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. 5 In the last five years of his life (1963 - 1968) amid tremendous pressures and tough losses, Dr.
King began to see the results of his peaceful attempts for American civil rights. On August 28, 1963, 250, 000 people demonstrated in Washington, D. C. , in support of civil rights, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. met with President John F. Kennedy and delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech.
On November 22, 1963, Dr. King s greatest governmental supporter President Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. In August 1964, Three young civil rights workers were found murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi. In December 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize.
In March 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the SCLC began a voter registration campaign in Alabama. Civil rights protesters, attempting to march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, were beaten by state patrolmen.
In August 1965, the 1965 Voting Right Act was signed by President Johnson. On March 28, 1968, Dr; Martin Luther King, Jr. led a march in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. This was the last march he led as others would carry on the cause in his name after his death. On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King delivered his last speech, I ve Been to the Mountaintop, in front of a large pentecostal congregation in a Memphis cathedral. His last public sermon seemed prophetic and inspirational, as if Dr.
King knew something the rest of the world didn t: As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in? Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy. Now thats a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around.
Thats a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars. And I see God working in this period of the twentieth century in a way that men, in some strange way, are responding something is happening in our world. Well, I dont know what will happen now.
Weve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesnt matter with me now. Because Ive been to the mountaintop. And I dont mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place.
But Im not concerned about that now. I just want to do Gods will. And Hes allowed me to go up to the mountain. And Ive looked over. And Ive seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you.
But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the Promised Land. And Im happy, tonight. Im not worried about anything. Im not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. 6 The very next day, on April 4, 1968 Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan called January 15 th the first National King Holiday remembering the slain civil rights leader. All but two states recognized King Day until Arizona in 1992 and New Hampshire in 1998 passed state laws recognizing the holiday. Thirty-one years have passed since Dr. King s life ended.
Civil rights for American citizens of all colors, races, religions, and creeds have been greatly improved as a result of Martin Luther King s fight for freedom. Bibliography 1. Grolier Incorporated. The American Presidents. (Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated, 1992) 2. King, Martin Luther. A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Martin Luther King, Jr. (London: Little 038; Brown, 1999) 3.
Washington, James M. , Ed. A Testament Of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. , (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1986)
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