“I have a dream that one day my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). These wise and upholding words of confidence and determination changed the face of America during a time of hate and discrimination. King’s inspirational leadership and speeches helped make a local bus protest into a historical event (“King, Martin Luther Jr.”) He gathered thousands of people, both black and white, to many encouraging protests and meetings to bring a hateful and racist world to peace.
His strategy of “encouraging nonviolent protest and interracial cooperation helped him to fight effectively again the southern system” (King, Martin Luther Jr.”). These strategies were also based on the belief of Indian pacifist Mohandas Gandhi. Martin Luther King Jr.’s ambition to seek a perfect world was extravagant; he will always be in the minds and hearts of Americans in years to come.
Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). His birth name was Michael, but he later changed it to Martin (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). His parent’s names were Alberta and Martin Luther King, Sr. Alberta was a homemaker and Martin Sr. was a minister (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). Martin Jr. also had an older sister, named Christine, and a younger brother, named Alfred
Rogers 2 (“Martin Luther King Jr.). Young Martin grew up in Atlanta to a very loving family highly devoted to service and faith. When Martin was young, he first encountered racism when his friends’ mother (who was white) did not allow him to play with her white son (Darby 8). Martin was too young to understand completely the meaning of why he was not allowed but the message he was simple, blacks were different from whites (Darby 9).
Martin’s knowledge was known at a young age. He began reading at a very early age; his favorite books were about black history and the people who made it (Darby 13). He went to school at local segregated schools in Atlanta. He went to school when he was only five years old, but at the time it was only legal for kids to start school at the age of six. After officials found this out, he was forced to wait another year and start again. Martin attended Young Street Elementary and David Elementary Schools.
When Martin was a junior in high school he was taking college exams that showed how advanced he was (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). He was able to go to college at the age of fifteen, skipping two years of high school. Martin attended Morehouse College, an all boy’s school and one of the finest black colleges in the country at the time. He studied sociology and received his bachelor’s degree Morehouse in 1948 (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). At the time Martin was thinking about becoming a minister.
His father being a key role model on his decision to become a minister, he described his decision as an “inner urge,” calling him to “serve God and humanity (Carson 501). He was ordained during his final semester at Morehouse (Carson 502). At this time and point in his life, this is also where Martin began to precede his first steps towards his political spotlight.
After departing Morehouse, King increased his understanding of liberal Christian thoughts while attending Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania from 1948 to 1951 (Carson 502). King had interest in Reinhold Niebuhr neorthodoxy which emphasized the impact of social evil. Martin added he didn’t begin a quest or method to eliminate social evil until he attended Crozer (Darby 20). Even as he continued to question and modify his own religious belief, he was performing outstandingly and graduated at the top of his class (Carson 502). He won the Plafker Award for the most outstanding student and received the J. Luis Crozer fellowship to study at any university of his choice (Darby 21). His parents gave him and hug and bought him a brand new Chevy.
After graduating from Crozer, King began his doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University in School of Theology (Carson 502). The paper King had written during his time at Boston University had showed little originality but much plagiarism but had also formulated a decent perspective (Carson 502). By the time King had completed his doctoral studies in 1955, King had a strong view upon a wide range of theological and philosophical texts to express his views with precise information (Carson 502).
His new and increased theological insights became known as he expanded his preaching activities at local Boston churches where he had assisted his father at masses. Also during King’s stay in Boston, he had met Coretta Scott, an Alabama born Antioch graduate who was then a student at the New England Conservatory of Music (Carson 502). On June 18, 1953, the students were married in Marion, Alabama, where Coretta’s family lived (Carson 502).
During the following academic year, King began work on his dissertation which he completed during the spring of 1955. Thus finishing his dissertation, he was awarded a doctorate (Ph.D.) I theology and became Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (Darby 23). Although he had thought about pursing an academic career, King decided to accept an offer to become the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama (Carson 502).
In 1955, King was selected by the Montgomery Improvement Association to protest the arrest of NAACP official Rosa Parks for refusing to give her bus seat up to a white man (Carson 502). With King as their leader, the association led a year long boycott. King gained his leadership abilities through his religious background to gradually form a strategy that involved black churches to gain white support (Carson 502). Many of King’s beliefs were also mixed with the concepts on Indian pacifist leader Mohandas Gandhi to enforce non-violence during his protests.
During King’s speech at a local segregated black church, he had gathered four thousand people to hear the story of Rosa Parks (Darby 34). After Martin’s speech, people cheered and stomped their feet as their reaction. The Civil Rights Movement had begun with King as their leader (Darby 35).
King had led the MIA’s plan to the use of blacks not using buses until they were legal to have the right to sit anywhere they would please. During the time when blacks did not ride buses, Martin would preach too many to “not boast or brag,” and if struck, “do not strike back” (Darby 43). One evening Martin was pulled over by an officer on his way home, he said he was speeding (Darby 29). The officer had told Martin that he was to be taken to the Montgomery Police, but the way he was taking him was a way through Klansman land. Klansman land was where many African Americans were taken, beaten, and hung without anybody knowing (Darby 40). Martin was very scared but soon relieved after seeing the sign: Montgomery Jail ahead (Darby 40).
King was soon released from jail too good news; Alabama had passed the new desegregation law, this meant victory for the blacks and the beginning of change for both races (Darby 42). With the victory, Martin cautioned black people to accept their victory with dignity and to resist violence. When King had time away from his social life, he liked spending time with his three kids. Spending time with his kids had made him stronger and more ready mentally for what was to come (Darby 61).
King’s campaign to end segregation at lunch counters and in hiring practices drew nationwide attention when police turned dogs and five horses onto demonstrators (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). King was jailed with hundreds of supporters, many of them being schoolchildren (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). After being released from prison, Martin and other Civil Rights Leaders began organizing the historic march in Washington D.C. A mix of races of about 200,000 gathered peacefully at the Lincoln Memorial to demand equal justice for all citizens (“Martin Luther King Jr.”).
Here crowds were intrigued by King’s uplifting “I have a Dream” speech (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). His speech emphasized his faith that all men, someday, would be brothers (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). His speech encouraged national opinion that resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). The act enforced desegregation of public accommodation and outlawing discrimination in public owned facilities (“Martin Luther King Jr.”).
The eventful year awarded King the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in December. Opposition hit within the Civil Rights movement during March of 1965 at a demonstration in Selma, Alabama. The opposition was aimed at giving blacks federal voting rights that would provide legal support for the African Americans in the south (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). King organized the initial march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery but did not lead it himself. The marchers were turned back with tear gas and night sticks.
Determined for a second march, King set out with fifteen hundred marchers, black and white until the group came to a barrage of state troopers. Instead of forcing a confrontation, he led his followers to kneel and pray then unexpectedly turn back (“Martin Luther King Jr.”). The country was amazed by there actions resulting in the passage of Voting Rights of 1965 (“Martin Luther King Jr.”).
In 1957, he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the civil rights movement (“King, Martin Luther, Jr.”). His ideas were based from Gandhi in the organization.
In a period from 1957-1968, King traveled our six million miles and spoke over twenty five hundred times (“King, Martin Luther, Jr.”). He was arrested at least twenty times (“King, Martin Luther, Jr.”). He was assaulted at least four times (“King, Martin Luther, Jr.”). He was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963 (“King, Martin Luther, Jr.”).
His strategy of encouraging nonviolent protest and interracial cooperation enabled him to fight against the Southern system (“King, Martin Luther, Jr.”). King’s inspirational leadership and his speeches helped to evaluate a local bus protest into a historical event (“King, Martin Luther, Jr.”). He was not only the symbolic leader of African Americans but also a world figure. He was the youngest man ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (thirty five years of age). He also turned down the prize money of $54, 123 and it would go to the civil rights movement.
He delivered his famous speech of “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” April 3, 1968 (“King, Martin Luther, Jr.”). This had been King’s last speech. At 6:01 p.m. of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he lead a protest for striking sanitation workers, he was assassinated (“King, Martin Luther, Jr.”). Martin was a man, he was not God. His charismatic and powerful way of speaking had changed American lives until present day. He was a man of vision and determination. He was often overworked and overtired, but this had never stopped him of dreaming what could be.
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