Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929. His mother, Alberta Williams King was a school teacher. His roots were from the African American Baptist church. His father, Martin Luther King Sr. was pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church. So has also Kings Grandfather been.
King was a bright student. He began Morehouse College at age fifteen, graduating in 1948. He entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, and was chosen valedictorian (the one who gives the goodbye speech last day before graduating at college) of his class in 1951. He received his Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955. He accepted the pastorate at Dexter Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama. Later he worked as a priest in his home town. Martin Luther King married Coretta Scott in 1953. They had four children together.
In December 1955, King was chosen to head the Montgomery Improvement Association in Montgomery, Alabama. With this leadership, he mobilized the Black community of Montgomery in a 382-day boycott of the city's bus lines. It all started when a woman named Rosa Parks refused to comply with Montgomery’s segregation policy on busses. King was inspired by Mahatma Ghandi and believed in non-violent methods. He was prepared to go to jail for his cause. And he did. Martin Luther King overcame sixteen arrests, brutal physical abuse, and even bombing of his home. The U.S. Supreme Court declared the bus segregation laws unconstitutional in December 1956. Blacks were then able to ride on equal footing. King accomplished this through his non-violence policy.
In 1959 King resigned from Dexter Baptist church and returned to Atlanta. He was going to work as a co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist church together with his father. In 1959 he also toured India so he could develop his understanding of Gandhi and his non-violent strategies.
Seeking to build upon the success in Montgomery 1955, King and some other southern priests organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957. Its purposes were to assist other communities in protest campaigns and in voter registration. King was now a national hero.
In 1960 black college students had a lot of sit in protests, which led to the formation of the Student Non-violent Coordination Committee (SNCC). King supported the student movements and expressed an interest in creating a youth army of the SCLC. Students admired King, but they were critical of his top-down leadership style. And they said SNCC was to remain a student led organization. This led to some tension between them.
King led a successful campaign in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, where local white police officials were known for their violent opposition to integration. There were a lot of clashes between unarmed black demonstrators and armed police officers with dogs. This led to newspaper headlines all over the world. The brutalities suffered by the people were most severe. 1963 was also the year that witnessed the historic March on Washington, for jobs and freedom, on 28 August, with King as the principal speaker. There was over 250 000 protesters gathered in Washington D. C. It was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. It is considered by many as the most eloquent speech in literary history. In 1963 King also became Time magazine’s man of the year.
That one day… little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with the little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers
I have a dream today.”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
The next year witnessed a great triumph when Martin Luther King became the recipient of the coveted Nobel Peace Prize.
But it was in that same year, 1964, that the Selma-to-Montgomery Freedom March took place for voter-registration. In that same year, the Civil Rights Act was passed. President Kennedy responded to the protests in 1963 by submitting broad civil rights legislation to the Congress, which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Logic dictates that King's crusade for justice played the major role in passing that historic bill.