Martin Luther King Jr. His life and dream

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929, to Michael King Sr. and Alberta Williams King, in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally his name was "Michael King Jr" but his father change both his and Michael Jr's name to Martin and added Luther, as a tribute to the 16th century Protestant Leader Martin Luther. Martin Jr. was the middle child of three. He grew up in a secure loving home, built on the foundations of faith and equality. Martin's Father and Grandfather were pastors for the Baptist church, but Martin's involvement within the church didn't happen until later within his life.

Martin's Family, Martin Jr. pictured bottom right.

Martin Jr., a very gifted student, attended segregated public schools and at the age of 15 was admitted to Morehouse College. There he studied Medicine and law. Clearly, he wasn't intending on following in his fathers footsteps. But, under the influence of his mentor and President of the college, Dr. Benjamin Mays a influential theologian and outspoken advocate for racial equality, Martin's passions started to change...

MLK and his sister at their graduation.

MLK changed his direction then and graduated in 1948 with a B.A. In sociology. He then moved on to Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree. After the Seminary, King enrolled in the Boston University graduate program and earned a doctorate in systematic theology. In Boston he met Coretta Scott, who he would marry in 1953. After the wedding the King's settled in Montgomery, Alabama where MLK became the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Their family grew as they had four children.

MLK's Family

King's family had been living in Montgomery for less than a year when the city became the epicenter of the struggle for civil rights in America. After Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus and was arrested, activists quickly coordinated a bus boycott that would continue for 381 days. They Chose Martin Luther King Jr. As the protest's leader and official spokesman.

Students march in support of the Bus Boycott.

MLK had now entered the national spotlight as an inspirational proponent of organized, nonviolent resistance. He also became a target for white supremacists, who firebombed his family's home. After the bus boycotts success, in 1957 MLK and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group committed to achieveing full quality for African Americans through nonviolence. MLK remained the helm of this influential organization until his death.

MLK, his wife, and other members of the SCLC marching in a peaceful protest.

In 1960 the King's moved back to Atlanta, MLK native city, where he joined his father as co-pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. This move and new position did not stop MLK and his SCLC colleagues form becoming key players in many of the most significant civil rights battles of the 1960's. In April of 1963 MLK was arrested for his involvement in the Birmingham Campaign. King penned the civil rights manifesto known as the "Letter form Birmingham Jail," an eloquent defense of civil disobedience addressed to a group of white clergy men who had criticized his tactics.

MLK's mug shot after being arrested in 1963.

Later that year MLK worked with a number of civil rights and religious groups to organize the March on Washington for jobs and freedom. It was designed to be a peaceful political rally to shed light on the injustices African Americans continued to face across the country. Held on August 28th 1963 and attended by some 200,000 to 300,000 participants, the event is widely regarded as a watershed moment in the history of the American civil rights movement and a factor in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It was at this march that MLK made his most famous address, know as the "I have a Dream" speech.

Standing on the steps of Lincoln Memorial, MLK shared his vision of a future. The speech and march cemented King's reputation at home and abroad. Later that year he was named Man of the Year by TIME magazine and in 1964 became the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Pictures from the March on Washington

MLK's speech at March on Washington put him in even more of a spotlight. King contiuned his work, and broadened the scope of his activism to address issues such as the Vietnam War and poverty among Americans of all races. On the evening of April 4th 1968, Martin Luther King Jr was fatally shot while standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, where he had traveled to support a sanitation workers strike. His death caused major waves of riots to erupt in major cities across the county, while President Johnson declared a national day of mourning. After years of campaigning by activists, members of Congress and Coretta Scott King, and others, in 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a US federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. The holiday is to be observed on the third Monday of every January, it was first celebrated in 1986.

Article covering the assassination.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s life had a huge impact on race relations in the US. To this day he is one of the most widely known African American leaders of his era. His life and work has been honored with a national holiday, schools and public buildings named after him, and a memorial on Independence Mall in Washington, D.C. MLK was a deeply committed visionary leader set on achieving social justice through nonviolent means. It is safe to say that our country would not be where it is today without the work, the drive, and the life of Marthin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2017.

Created By
Allicia Hall


Created with images by Ron Cogswell - "Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial -- Washington (DC) March 2012" * 5 young photos of Martin Luther King Jr., * College Photos of Martin Luther King Jr. Show the Icon's life, * Martin's Luther King Jr. Family, * Motivational Monday: Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., * Wedding catalog, * Dr Martin Luther King Family, * Bristol Bus Boycott, * Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) New Georgia, * King's Letter from Birmingham Jail, 50 Years Later, * A Closer Look at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's march on Washington, * March on Washington Fast Facts, * Martin Luther King Jr.: 8 Peaceful protests that bolstered civil rights, * A newspaper article about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., * Martin Luther King Jr. Day-Monday Jan. 16, 2017,

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