Martin Luther King Jr. Biography

Martin Luther King

 

Childhood and Youth

Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta (Georgia, USA) in the family of the pastor of the Baptist church. At birth, he was given the name Michael, but later the boy’s name was changed to Martin.

He studied at David Howard Elementary School, and then at Booker Washington High School. In 1944, at the age of 15, he passed the exams and entered Morehouse College in Atlanta. Then he became a member of the National Association for the Progress of Colored People.

In 1947 King accepted the rank and became an assistant to his father in the church. After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1948, King entered the Crozier Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, and in 1951 received a bachelor’s degree in theology. The scholarship granted him allowed to enter the postgraduate course at Boston University, where in 1955 he became a doctor of philosophy.

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Montgomery bus boycott, 1955

On December 1, 1955, after a long working day, the tailor’s assistant, Rose Parks, boarded a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. After one white passenger, for whom there was no free place, entered the bus, Rosa Parks and her neighbor in the eleventh row were ordered to vacate, but she refused. The police were called in and the woman was arrested.

A one-day boycott was declared on December 5, and as a result of the meeting, the Montgomery Improvement Association was formed. 26-year-old priest Martin Luther King was chosen as the head of the association. Despite the personal difficulties of the participants, shelling, and imprisonment, the boycott lasted a whole year. About 40,000 black people participated in it.  And even after his home was attacked, and King himself and more than 100 boycott members were arrested for “trying to interfere with the bus,” his steadfast politeness and commitment to non-violent tactics aroused respect for the movement and discredited the supporters of segregation in Montgomery.

When the district court opposed the abolition of segregation, the petition was filed with the Supreme Court. The latter decided to declare a division on the basis of race in public transport outlawed in November 1956.

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Southern Christian Leadership Conference

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is a human rights organization that played a significant role in the civil rights movement for blacks in the United States.

It was founded in 1957 in the city of Atlanta (Georgia) under the leadership of the Martin Luther King, and the practice of its struggle, including demonstrations and acts of civil disobedience, reflected his commitment to non-violent methods of struggle.

In 1963, the organization launched a campaign for the desegregation of restaurants, hotels and

department stores in the city of Birmingham (Alabama). In the same 1963, it organized a march on Washington, in which about 250 thousand people took part. The conference also conducted a number of campaigns for the registration of black voters in the southern states (such an action in Selma (Alabama) in 1965 led to clashes with local police and attracted public attention throughout the country).

By the mid-1960s, more militant groups such as the “Black Panthers” began to play a significant role in the struggle for civil rights. The impact of the Conference on the movement has declined markedly and has practically come to naught after the assassination of King in 1968.

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March on Washington, 1963

King, representing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was among the leaders of the “Big Six” human rights organizations that participated in the organization of the March on Washington, which took place on August 28, 1963.

The main organizer was King’s associate Bayard Rustin. For King, the role played by Bayard Rustin was controversial, as he was one of the key figures who agreed with President Kennedy’s desire to change the main meaning of the march. Kennedy initially opposed the march completely, because he worried that this could adversely affect the issue of the adoption of the law on civil rights. However, the organizers were unshakable that the march should take place. As the march progressed, Kennedy decided that this was an important work to ensure success. President Kennedy was concerned that less than 100,000 people would meet, so he enlisted the support of church leaders and the United Automobile Workers’ Union to help mobilize the demonstrators.

The March declared specific requirements such as:

  • the end of racial segregation in public schools,
  • the adoption of significant legislation on civil rights, including the prohibition of racial discrimination in the workplace,
  • the protection of civil rights of workers against police brutality,
  • the establishment of an equal minimum wage for all workers;
  • the self-government of Washington, at that time managed by the Congress Committee.

Despite the contradictions, the march was a great success. More than a quarter of a million people of different ethnicities attended the event, stretching from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall and around the reflecting pool. At that time, it was the largest protest rally in the history of Washington.

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“I Have a Dream”

“I Have a Dream” began to be regarded as one of the most beautiful speeches in the history of American oratory. Marsh and especially King’s speech contributed to the fact that civil rights took the first place in the reform program in the US and facilitated the adoption of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The very concept of speech is constructed in such a way that Martin Luther King shares his dream with his comrades. He does not say how it should be and what should be done, but only what he dreams about. Nevertheless, the form of the presentation of speech does not diminish the power of the impact of his theses on the audience, because King does not simply recite, calling to reason, but affects the feelings of listeners and instills in their minds their ideas, their dreams. And this dream becomes common, and the people begin to believe in it.

In addition, Martin Luther King addresses his speech not only to the audience gathered at the Lincoln Memorial but also to the country’s leadership, the people making the most important decisions.

This fact dictated a special logical structure of these in the speech of the orator. It can be said that some of the statements and statements of Martin Luther King in the speech “I have a dream” were similar to the blackmail of the US authorities. This technique was used to denote the sense of identity of people with a protest movement, on the one hand, and turning to their opponents to force them to enter into negotiations in order to avoid riots, on the other hand.

“I have a dream” – March on Washington, 1963 – speech

“I have a dream that my four 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. / “I Have A Dream” speech, August 28, 1963

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The Murder

In late March 1968, King led a procession of workers who were on strike against low salaries and poor working conditions in Memphis. On April 3, he delivered his last speech, where he mentioned threats and stated that he is not afraid of anyone.

King stopped in his favorite room at the Motel Lorraine. This motel was a favorite recreation place for a human rights defender, who always stayed in room 306. At six o’clock on the evening of April 4, King went to the balcony of this room, and almost immediately a shot was heard.  The bullet hit King in the neck and spine and then stuck in the shoulder area, the wound was fatal.

Despite the fact that he was immediately sent to a hospital where doctors helped him, King could not be saved. An hour after the shot, it was announced that a great preacher, a man who did much to democratize the United States is dead.

The murder of Martin Luther King is considered one of the most high-profile crimes of the 20th century. Despite the fact that the killer was arrested two months after the event, many still doubt that all the perpetrators were punished. Questions about the possible accomplices of the murderer of the famous preacher and human rights activist are still unanswered.

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Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

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