Martin Luther King Jr. (Original name Michael King Jr.) (born January 15, 1929, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.— died April 4, 1968, Memphis, Tennessee) was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.
King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.
Martin Luther King Jr rose to national prominence as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which promoted nonviolent tactics, such as the massive March on Washington (1963), to achieve civil rights. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
His grandfather began the family’s long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931. His father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death, Martin Luther acted as co-pastor.
Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had graduated.
After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, Martin Luther King Jr was awarded Bachelor of Divinity Degree in 1951. With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955.
In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. They were married in 1953 and had four children, Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.
In 1954, Martin Luther King Jr became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
In December 1, 1955 the city’s small group of civil rights advocates decided to contest racial segregation on that city’s public bus system following the in which Rosa Parks, an African American woman, had refused to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger and as a consequence was arrested for violating the city’s segregation law.
Activists formed the Montgomery Improvement Association to boycott the transit system and chose Martin Luther King Jr as their leader. He had the advantage of being a young, well-trained man who was too new in town to have made enemies; he was generally respected, and it was thought that his family connections and professional standing would enable him to find another pastorate should the boycott fail.
In his first speech to the group as its president, Martin Luther King Jr declared:
We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.
These words introduced to the country a fresh voice, a skillful rhetoric, an inspiring personality, and in time a dynamic new doctrine of civil struggle.
Although King’s home was bombed and his family’s safety threatened, he continued to lead the boycott until, one year and a few weeks later, the city’s buses were desegregated.
In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968 as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles.
In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience. and inspiring his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, “l Have a Dream”, he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.
On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated.
The plan to set up a shantytown in Washington, D.C., was carried out soon after the April 4 assassination. Criticism of King’s plan was subdued in the wake of his death, and the SCLC received an unprecedented wave of donations for the purpose of carrying it out. The campaign officially began in Memphis, on May 2, at the hotel where King was murdered. Thousands of demonstrators arrived on the National Mall and stayed for six weeks, establishing a camp they called “Resurrection City.”
Beginning in 1971, cities such as St. Louis, Missouri, and states established annual holidays to honor Martin Luther King Jr. At the White House Rose Garden on November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor King.
Observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, it is called Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Following President George H. W. Bush’s 1992 proclamation, the holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year, near the time of King’s birthday.
On January 17, 2000, for the first time, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in all fifty U.S. states. Arizona (1992), New Hampshire (1999) and Utah (2000) were the last three states to recognize the holiday. Utah previously celebrated the holiday at the same time but under the name Human Rights Day.
Real (Original) Name: Michael King Jr
Birthday: January 15, 1929
Place of Birth: Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Death: April 4, 1968
Cause of Death: Assassinated
Place of Death: Memphis, Tennessee.
See The Inspiring Quotes by Martin Luther King Jr Below;
“If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, ‘brethren!’ Be careful, teachers!”
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”
“Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”
“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
“Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
“The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.”
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
“Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.”
“For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.”
“All we say to America is, ‘Be true to what you said on paper.’ If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they hadn’t committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of the press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right.”
“We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now because I’ve been to the mountaintop… I’ve looked over and I’ve 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.”
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.”
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”