Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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15th January 1929 – 4th April 1968

Today would have been Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr’s 92nd birthday.

He was born Michael Luther King Jr but later his Father changed his name to Martin. 

Martin’s father – Reverend Michael King Senior was a senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

In the summer of 1934, King Senior’s church sent him on a trip where he visited Rome, Tunisia, Egypt, Jerusalem, and Berlin.

The stop at Berlin had a profound effect on King Senior, he learned about the German monk and theologian Martin Luther.

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg castle church, challenging the Catholic Church.

This led to the birth of the Protestant Reformation which split Western Christianity.

So when King Senior returned to the United States he changed his name to Martin Luther King as well as his son’s – Martin Luther King Junior.

Early Years

King Junior attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from secondary school-aged fifteen.

King received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College. An HBCU (Historically Black College University) that both his father and grandfather had graduated from.

Martin enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving his degree in 1955.

Whilst studying in Boston he met and fell in love with Coretta Scott. They had two sons and two daughters.

In 1954, King became a pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. 

Activism

Already a leader in the civil rights movement for Black people and he was part of the executive committee for the NAACP.

This stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and was a leading organisation of its kind.

In December 1955, he led the demonstration of the Bus Boycott, which lasted for 382 days.

This ended on December 21, 1956, when the Supreme Court of the United States had declared that Black and white people rode the buses as equals.

During the boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed and he was abused.

In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times.

King led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, and caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a “coalition of conscience.” 

King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, was published on the 12th June 1963, which was an open letter to clergymen who criticized King’s actions.

It was published in national publications such as the New York Post, Liberation magazine, The New Leader, and The Christian Century.

King directed a peaceful march of 250,000 people to Washington D.C. where he delivered his iconic speech; “I Have a Dream”.

This happened on the 28th August 1963, which was the same date as the UK’s Bristol Bus Boycott

King worked with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was arrested upwards of twenty times for protesting and was awarded five honorary degrees.

King was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963, and was seen as a world leader.

At the age of thirty-five, Dr. Rev Martin Luther King, Jr. was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize.

On that fateful date of April 4th, 1968, King was in Memphis Tennessee where he was in town to lead a protest march.

The protest was to march in sympathy with striking garbage workers.

King was on the balcony of his motel room where he was assassinated.

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

Happy Birthday to Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr.

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