Martin Luther King, Jr.

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


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Dr. Martin Luther King—Preacher and Leader of the Civil Rights Movement in America

January 15, 1929, Atlanta, Georgia. Times given variously as 11:00 AM CST, (Lois Rodden), 11:21 AM, CST (Jim Lewis) and 12:00 PM, CST (Marc Penfield), yielding respectively, 23º of Aries rising, 0º of Taurus rising, and 13º of Taurus rising. Died, April 3, 1968      

“Ruth Dewey quotes DELL 9/1970 for "high noon stated by his mom."  (Ebertin has 11:00 AM.  Huggins in The Astrology Magazine 1/1970 gives 1:00  PM LMT.  Jim Lewis in MH 4/1979 rectifies from  "around Noon" to 11:21 AM, using Astro*Carto*Graphy methods.  March has 8:42 PM from Kiyo.)”    

(Ascendant, Aries or Taurus; Sun in Capricorn; Moon and Venus in Pisces; Mercury in Aquarius; Jupiter in Taurus; Saturn in Sagittarius; Uranus in Aries; Neptune in Virgo; Pluto in Cancer) 

Martin Luther King tells us, “I have been to the mountain”—a reference to the vision accorded to an initiate (of whatever degree) born in Capricorn. He tried to share this deep insight of freedom and wholeness with the black community and with the world at large. He was a great idealist; a man of high and noble vision (sixth ray). His methods were non-violent, which suggests a Taurus Ascendant (rather than Aries) with its ruling planet, Venus,  in peaceful Pisces. As well, Dr. King was a supreme orator—such powers arising not only from the sixth ray but, very probably, from the powers of Taurus which rules the voice. On a far lower turn of the spiral, we must remember that Hitler too, born in Taurus, was a great orator.


Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington in 1963, along with his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize, and his final sermon in Memphis are among his most famous utterances. The following excerpts reveal the cogency, conviction and persuasion of his powerful speaking style.

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day, even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

“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. I have a dream today¼I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama, 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.”

“This hope is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the south with. And with this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

“...And so let freedom ring, from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and mole hill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring¼And when we allow freedom to ring – when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.”

“I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life unable to influence the unfolding of events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”

“I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of a thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final world in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger that evil triumphant.”

“...That’s the question before you tonight. Not, ‘If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job?’ ‘Not, if I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office everyday and every week as a pastor?’ The question is not, ‘If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?’ The question is, ‘If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?’ That’s the question.”

“Let us rise up tonight with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be. We have an opportunity to make America a better nation. And I want to thank God once more for allowing me to be here with you.”

“...And they were telling me, now it doesn’t matter now. It really doesn’t matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us, the pilot said over the public address system. ‘We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we’ve had the plane protected and guarded all night.”

“And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?”

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop and I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will, and He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And 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. And I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

A lie cannot live.

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on the installment plan.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.

Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

I am not interested in power for power's sake, but I'm interested in power that is moral, that is right and that is good.

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.

I have a dream that my four little 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.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I just want to do God's will. And he's allowed me to go to the mountain. And 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.

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Seeing is not always believing.

Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.

The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

The time is always right to do what is right.


Background and family
King was born in Atlanta, Georgia to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. (Birth records list King's first name as Michael, apparently due to some confusion on the part of the family doctor regarding the true name of his father, who was known as Mike throughout his childhood.) He graduated from Morehouse College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 1948. His application to Yale Divinity School was rejected, and he graduated from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania [1] and a Bachelor of Divinity in 1951. He received his Ph.D. in Systematic theology from Boston University in 1955. Later, however, scholars at the King Papers project found that King plagiarized portions of his doctoral dissertation and academic papers, although Boston University did not revoke King's degree. For further information see authorship issues.
King married Coretta Scott on June 18, 1953. The wedding ceremony took place in Scott's parents' house in Marion, Alabama, and was performed by King's father.
King and Scott had four children:
• Yolanda Denise (November 17, 1955, Montgomery, Alabama)
• Martin Luther III (October 23, 1957, Montgomery, Alabama)
• Dexter Scott (January 30, 1961, Atlanta, Georgia)
• Bernice Albertine (March 28, 1963, Atlanta, Georgia)
The four children all have one thing in common: They have followed their father's footsteps as civil rights activists.

Civil rights activism
In 1954, King became the pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He was a leader of the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott which began when Rosa Parks refused to comply with Jim Crow law and surrender her seat to a white man. The boycott lasted for 381 days. The situation became so tense that King's house was bombed. King was arrested during this campaign, which ended with a United States Supreme Court decision outlawing racial segregation on intrastate buses.
Following the campaign, King was instrumental in the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957, a group created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct nonviolent protests in the service of civil rights reform. King continued to dominate the organization until his death. The organization's nonviolent principles were criticized by the younger, more radical blacks and challenged by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) then headed by James Foreman.
The SCLC derived its membership principally from black communities associated with Baptist churches. King was an adherent of the philosophies of nonviolent civil disobedience used successfully in India by Mahatma Gandhi, and he applied this philosophy to the protests organized by the SCLC. King correctly identified that organized, nonviolent protest against the racist system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights. Indeed, journalistic accounts and televised footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights workers and marchers, produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion that made the Civil Rights Movement the single most important issue in American politics in the early 1960s.

King is perhaps most famous for his "I Have a Dream" speech, given in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
King organized and led marches for blacks' right to vote, desegregation, fair hiring, and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into United States law with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
King and the SCLC applied the principles of nonviolent protest with great success by strategically choosing the method of protest and the places in which protests were carried out in often dramatic stand-offs with segregationist authorities. Sometimes these confrontations turned violent. King and the SCLC were instrumental in the unsuccessful protest movement in Albany, in 1961–1962, where divisions within the black community and the canny, low-key response by local government defeated efforts; in the Birmingham protests in the summer of 1963; and in the protest in St. Augustine, Florida, in 1964. King and the SCLC joined forces with SNCC in Selma, Alabama, in December 1964, where SNCC had been working on voter registration for a number of months.

King and SCLC, in partial collaboration with SNCC, then attempted to organise a march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery, for March 25, 1965. The first attempt to march on March 7, was aborted due to mob and police violence against the demonstrators. This day since has become known as Bloody Sunday. Bloody Sunday was a major turning point in the effort to gain public support for the Civil Rights Movement, the clearest demonstration up to that time of the dramatic potential of King's nonviolence strategy. King, however, was not present. After meeting with President Lyndon B. Johnson, he had attempted to delay the march until March 8, but the march was carried out against his wishes and without his presence by local civil rights workers. The footage of the police brutality against the protestors was broadcast extensively across the nation and aroused a national sense of public outrage.

The second attempt at the march on March 9 was ended when King stopped the procession at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the outskirts of Selma, an action which he seemed to have negotiated with city leaders beforehand. This unexpected action aroused the surprise and anger of many within the local movement. The march finally went ahead fully on March 25, with the agreement and support of President Johnson, and it was during this march that Willie Ricks coined the phrase "Black Power" (widely credited to Stokely Carmichael).
King, representing SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called "Big Six" civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. The other leaders and organizations comprising the Big Six were: Roy Wilkins, NAACP; Whitney Young, Jr., Urban League; A. Philip Randolph, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; John Lewis, SNCC; and James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). For King, this role was another which courted controversy, as he was one of the key figures who acceded to the wishes of President John F. Kennedy in changing the focus of the march. Kennedy initially opposed the march outright, because he was concerned it would negatively impact the drive for passage of civil rights legislation, but the organizers were firm that the march would proceed.
The march originally was conceived as an event to dramatize the desperate condition of blacks in the South and a very public opportunity to place organizers' concerns and grievances squarely before the seat of power in the nation's capital. Organizers intended to excoriate and then challenge the federal government for its failure to safeguard the civil rights and physical safety of civil rights workers and blacks, generally, in the South. However, the group acquiesced to presidential pressure and influence, and the event ultimately took on a far less strident tone.
As a result, some civil rights activists who felt it presented an inaccurate, sanitized pageant of racial harmony; Malcolm X called it the "Farce on Washington," and members of the Nation of Islam who attended the march faced a temporary suspension.[2]
The march did, however, make specific demands: an end to racial segregation in public school; meaningful civil rights legislation, including a law prohibiting racial discrimination in employment; protection of civil rights workers from police brutality; a $2 minimum wage for all workers; and self-government for the District of Columbia, then governed by congressional committee.
Despite tensions, the march was a resounding success. More than a quarter of a million people of diverse ethnicities attended the event, sprawling from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial onto the National Mall and around the reflecting pool. At the time, it was the largest gathering of protestors in Washington history. King's I Have a Dream speech electrified the crowd. It is regarded, along with President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, as one of the finest speeches in the history of American oratory.
Throughout his career of service, King wrote and spoke frequently, drawing on his long experience as a preacher. His "Letter from Birmingham Jail", written in 1963, is a passionate statement of his crusade for justice. On October 14, 1964, King became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to him for leading non-violent resistance to end racial prejudice in the United States.

Starting in 1965, King began to express doubts about the United States' role in the Vietnam War. On April 4, 1967— exactly one year before his death— King spoke out strongly against the US's role in the war, insisting that the US was in Vietnam "to occupy it as an American colony" and calling the US "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." But he also argued that the country needed larger moral changes:
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." [3]
King was long hated by many white southern segregationists, but this speech turned the more mainstream media against him. TIME called the speech "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi (a propaganda radio station run by the North Vietnamese Army during the Vietnam War)", and the Washington Post declared that King had "diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."
The speech was a reflection of King's evolving political advocacy in his later years. He began to speak of the need for fundamental changes in the political and economic life of the nation. Toward the end of his life, King more frequently expressed his opposition to the war and his desire to see a redistribution of resources to correct racial and economic injustice. Though his public language was guarded, so as to avoid being linked to communism by his political enemies, in private he sometimes spoke of his support for democratic socialism [4]):
You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry.... Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong... with capitalism.... There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism. (Frogmore, S.C. November 14, 1966. Speech in front of his staff.)

In 1968, King and the SCLC organized the "Poor People's Campaign" to address issues of economic justice. The campaign culminated in a march on Washington, D.C. demanding economic aid to the poorest communities of the United States.
On April 3, 1968, King prophetically told a euphoric crowd:
It really doesn't matter what happens now.... some began to... talk about the threats that were out -- what would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers.... Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place, but I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And 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. And so I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

King was assassinated the next evening, April 4, 1968, at 6:01pm, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, while preparing to lead a local march in support of the heavily black Memphis sanitation workers' union which was on strike at the time. Friends inside the motel room heard the shot fired and ran to the balcony to find King shot in the jaw. He was pronounced dead several hours later. The assassination led to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 60 cities. Four days later, President Johnson declared a national day of mourning for their lost civil rights leader. A crowd of 300,000 attended his funeral that same day.
Escaped convict James Earl Ray confessed to the shooting on March 10, 1969, (though he recanted this confession three days later) and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. In 1999, Coretta Scott King, King's widow (also a civil rights leader), along with the rest of King's family won a wrongful death civil trial against Loyd Jowers, who claimed to have received $100,000 to arrange King's assassination. The jury of six whites and six blacks found that "governmental agencies were parties" to the assassination plot.[5] The King family believes Ray had nothing to do with King's death.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was with King at the time of his death, noted "The fact is there were saboteurs to disrupt the march. [And] within our own organization, we found a very key person who was on the government payroll. So infiltration within, saboteurs from without and the press attacks. ... I will never believe that James Earl Ray had the motive, the money and the mobility to have done it himself. Our government was very involved in setting the stage for and I think the escape route for James Earl Ray." [6] King biographer David Garrow disagrees with William Pepper's claims that the government killed King. He is supported by King assassination author Gerald Posner. [7]

King had a mutually antagonistic relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), especially its director, J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI began tracking King and the SCLC in 1961. Its investigations were largely superficial until 1962, when it learned that one of King's most trusted advisers was Stanley Levison. Levison was a man whom the bureau suspected of involvement with the Communist Party, USA, to which another key King lieutenant, Hunter Pitts O'Dell, was also linked by sworn testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). The Bureau placed wiretaps on Levison and King's home and office phones, and bugged King's rooms in hotels as he traveled across the country. The Bureau also informed then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy and then-President John F. Kennedy, both of whom unsuccessfully tried to persuade King to dissociate himself from Levison. For his part, King adamantly denied having any connections to Communism, stating at one point that "there are as many Communists in this freedom movement as there are Eskimos in Florida"—to which Hoover responded by calling King "the most notorious liar in the country."
The attempt to smear King as a communist was in keeping with the feeling of many segregationists that blacks in the South were happy with their lot, but had been stirred up by "communists" and "outside agitators." Movement leaders countered that voter disenfranchisement, lack of education and employment opportunities, discrimination and vigilante violence were the reasons for the strength of the Civil Rights Movement, and that blacks had the intelligence and motivation to organize on their own.
HUAC later was discredited for its coercion of witnesses and the manner in which it sought to implicate individuals with vague and often sweeping accusations and assumptions of guilt by association. The Committee was renamed in 1969 and eventually abolished.
Later, the focus of the Bureau's investigations shifted to attempting to "discredit" King through revelations regarding his private life. FBI surveillance of King, some of it since made public, demonstrates that he also engaged in numerous extramarital sexual affairs. Accounts of such behavior also have been provided by King's associates, including close friend Ralph Abernathy. The Bureau distributed reports regarding such affairs to the executive branch, friendly reporters, potential coalition partners and funding sources of the SCLC, and King's family. The Bureau also sent anonymous letters to King threatening to reveal information if he didn't cease his civil rights work.
Finally, the Bureau's investigation shifted away from King's personal life to intelligence and counterintelligence work on the direction of the SCLC and the Black Power movement.
January 31, 1977, in the cases of Bernard S. Lee v. Clarence M. Kelley, et al. and Southern Christian Leadership Conference v. Clarence M. Kelley, et al. United States District Judge John Lewis Smith, Jr., ordered that all known copies of the recorded tapes, and transcripts resulting from the FBI's microphonic surveillance of King, between 1963 and 1968, be sealed and made secret within the National Archives until the year 2027.
Across from the Lorraine Motel, next to the building that James Earl Ray was hiding in, was an abandoned fire station. The FBI was assigned to observe King during the appearance he was planning to make on the Lorraine Motel balcony later that day, and utilized the fire station as a makeshift base. Using papered-over windows with peepholes cut into them, the agents watched over the scene until MLK was shot. Immediately following the shooting, all six agents rushed out of the station and were the first people to administer first-aid to Dr. King. Their presence nearby has led to speculation that the FBI was involved in the assassination.

Beginning in the 1980's, questions have been raised regarding the authorship of King's dissertation, other papers, and his speeches. (Though not widely known during his lifetime, most of his published writings during his civil rights career were ghostwritten, or at least heavily adapted from his speeches.) Concerns about his doctoral dissertation at Boston University led to a formal inquiry by university officials, which concluded that approximately a third of it had been plagiarized from a paper written by an earlier graduate student, but it was decided not to revoke his degree, as the paper still "makes an intelligent contribution to scholarship." Such uncredited "textual appropriation," as King scholar Clayborne Carson has labeled it, was apparently a habit of King's begun earlier in his academic career. It is also a feature of many of his speeches, which borrowed heavily from those of other preachers and white radio evangelists. While some political opponents have used these findings to criticize King, most of the scholars in question have sought to put them into broader context; for example, Keith Miller, probably the foremost expert on language-borrowing in King's oratory, has argued that the practice falls within the tradition of African-American folk preaching, and should not necessarily be labeled plagiarism.

Since his death, King's reputation has grown to become one of the most revered names in American history to the point where he is compared with Abraham Lincoln. Supporters of this idea remark that both were leaders credited with strongly advancing human rights against poor odds in a nation divided against itself on the issue - and were assassinated in part for it. Even posthumous accusations of marital infidelity and academic plagiarism have not seriously dented his public esteem, but merely reinforced the image of a very human hero and leader.
In 1980, King's boyhood home in Atlanta and several other nearby buildings were declared as the National Historic Site. In 1986, a U.S. national holiday was established in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., which is called Martin Luther King Day. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, around the time of King's birthday. On January 18, 1993, for the first time, Martin Luther King Day was officially observed in all 50 U.S. states. In addition, many U.S. cities have officially renamed one of their streets to honor King.

(January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. 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 been graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. 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. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.

In 1954, Martin Luther King accepted the pastorale of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation. He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation speech in honor of the laureate. The boycott lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as equals. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.

In 1957 he was elected 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. In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, 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.

At the age of thirty-five, , was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.

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, he was assassinated.

Dr. was a vital figure of the modern era. His lectures and dialogues stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. The movements and marches he led brought significant changes in the fabric of American life through his courage and selfless devotion. This devotion gave direction to thirteen years of civil rights activities. His charismatic leadership inspired men and women, young and old, in this nation and around the world.

Dr. King’s concept of “somebodiness,” which symbolized the celebration of human worth and the conquest of subjugation, gave black and poor people hope and a sense of dignity. His philosophy of nonviolent direct action, and his strategies for rational and non-destructive social change, galvanized the conscience of this nation and reordered its priorities. His wisdom, his words, his actions, his commitment, and his dream for a new way of life are intertwined with the American experience.

born at noon on Tuesday, January 15, 1929 at the family home, 501 Auburn Avenue, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Charles Johnson was the attending physician. was the first son and second child born to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. Also born to the Kings were Christine, now Mrs. Isaac Farris, Sr., and the Reverend Alfred Daniel Williams King. The Reverend A.D. King is now deceased.

At the age of five, began school, before reaching the legal age of six, at the Yonge Street Elementary School in Atlanta. When his age was discovered, he was not permitted to continue in school and did not resume his education until he was six. Following Yonge School, he was enrolled in David T. Howard Elementary School. He also attended the Atlanta University Laboratory School and Booker T. Washington High School. Because of his high scores on the college entrance examinations in his junior year of high school, he advanced to Morehouse College without formal graduation from Booker T. Washington. Having skipped both the ninth and twelfth grades, Dr. King entered Morehouse at the age of fifteen.

In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse College with a B.A. degree in Sociology. That fall he enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. While attending Crozer, he also studied at the University of Pennsylvania. He was elected President of the Senior Class and delivered the valedictory address. He won the Peral Plafkner Award as the most outstanding student, and he received the J. Lewis Crozer Fellowship for graduate study at a university of his choice. He was awarded a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozer in 1951.

In September of 1951, began doctoral studies in Systematic Theology at Boston University. He also studied at Harvard University. His dissertation, “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman,” was completed in 1955, and the Ph.D. degree was awarded on June 5, 1955.

King entered the Christian ministry and was ordained in February 1948 at the age of nineteen at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia. Following his ordination, he became Assistant Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church. Upon completion of his studies at Boston University, he accepted the call of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He was the pastor of Dexter Avenue from September 1954 to November 1959, when he resigned to move to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1960 until his death in 1968, he was co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Dr. King was a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement. He was elected President of the Montgomery Improvement Association, the organization that was responsible for the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott from 1955 to 1956 (381 days). He was arrested thirty times for his participation in civil rights activities. He was a founder and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1957 to 1968. He was also Vice President of the National Sunday School and Baptist Teaching Union Congress of the National Baptist Convention. He was a member of several national and local boards of directors and served on the boards of trustees of numerous institutions and agencies. Dr. King was elected to membership in several learned societies including the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. King was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Dr. King was in Memphis to help lead sanitation workers in a protest against low wages and intolerable working conditions. James Earl Ray was arrested in London, England on June 8, 1968, and returned to Memphis, Tennessee on July 19, 1969 to stand trial for the assassination of Dr. King. On March 9, 1969, before coming to trial, he entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to ninety-nine years in the Tennessee State Penitentiary.

On December 8, 1999, a jury of twelve citizens of Memphis, Shelby County, TN concluded in Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, III, Bernice King, Dexter Scott King and Yolanda King Vs. Loyd Jowers and Other Unknown Conspirators that Loyd Jowers and governmental agencies including the City of Memphis, the State of Tennessee, and the federal government were party to the conspiracy to assassinate Dr.

Dr. King’s funeral services were held on April 9, 1968 at Ebenezer Baptist Church and on the campus of Morehouse College, with the President of the United State proclaiming a day of mourning and flags being flown at half-staff. The area where Dr. King is entombed is located on Freedom Plaza and is surrounded by the Freedom Hall Complex of the Historic Site. The site is a 23-acre area was listed as a National Historic Landmark on May 5, 1977 and was made a National Historic Site on October 10, 1980 by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

In recent years, events in the lives of the King family have continued to reflect the tragedy and the triumph so uniquely combined in Dr. King’s own life and is intrinsic, perhaps, in the lives of all dedicated persons the world over.

Just a little more than a year after was killed, his younger brother, Alfred Daniel, died in a tragic accident at his home in Atlanta. Funeral services were held at Ebenezer Baptist Church on July 24, 1969, where Alfred Daniel had served as co-pastor.

On Sunday, June 30, 1974, Mrs. Alberta Williams King, the mother of Dr. , was shot and killed as she sat at the organ in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Again, through an act of violence, there ended a life that was totally nonviolent, a life that was thoroughly Christian, a life that reflected love for all persons and unselfish service to humankind. Again, the indomitable faith of the King family was put to the test, and again love prevailed amid the greatest sadness. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr., bereft by the violent deaths of his two sons and now by the equally tragic death of his devoted wife, could still say – and did say – at her funeral service on July 3, “I cannot hate any man.”

In 1975, the year following his wife’s death, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. resigned his forty-four year pastorate at Ebenezer, passing on the active leadership of the church to the young and inspired Dr. Joseph L. Roberts, Jr. At his retirement banquet on August 1, 1975, however, “Daddy King” made it clear – as if anyone could have thought otherwise – that his resignation did not mean his retirement from the full and active life that has described his long career. This “Giant of a Man,” as he was acclaimed on that memorable evening, continued to work and to speak and to use the gifts with which the Lord had endowed him in the loving service of others. Among the Rev. King, Sr.’s many accomplishments is the completion of his one luxury, the publication of his autobiography, Daddy King. Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. died on November 11, 1984 of a heart attack at Crawford W. Long Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. He was 84 years of age. Funeral services were held on November 14, 1984.

1929 Born on at noon on January 15, 1929.
Parents: The Reverend and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Sr.
1944 Graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and was admitted to Morehouse College at the age of 15. 1948 Graduates from Morehouse College and enters Crozer Theological Seminary.
Ordained to the Baptist ministry, February 25, 1948, at the age 19.
1951 Enters Boston University for graduate studies.1953 Marries Coretta Scott and settles in Montgomery, Alabama.
1955 Received Doctorate of Philosophy in Systematic Theology from Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts on June 5, 1955.
Joins the bus boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1. On December 5, he is elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, making him the official spokesman for the boycott.
1956 On November 13, the Supreme Court rules that bus segregation is illegal, ensuring victory for the boycott.
1957 King forms the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to fight segregation and achieve civil rights. On May 17, Dr. King speaks to a crowd of 15,000 in Washington, D.C.
1958 The U.S. Congress passed the first Civil Rights Act since reconstruction. King's first book, Stride Toward Freedom, is published.

On a speaking tour, is nearly killed when stabbed by an assailant in Harlem. Met with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, and Lester Grange on problems affecting black Americans.
1959 Visited India to study Mohandas Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence.

Resigns from pastoring the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church to concentrate on civil rights full time. He moved to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
1960 Becomes copastor with his father at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lunch counter sit-ins began in Greensboro, North Carolina. In Atlanta, King is arrested during a sit-in waiting to be served at a restaurant. He is sentenced to four months in jail, but after intervention by John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, he is released.
Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee founded to coordinate protests at Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina. 1961 In November, the Interstate Commerce Commission bans segregation in interstate travel due to work of and the Freedom Riders.
Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) began first Freedom Ride through the South, in a Greyhound bus, after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed segregation in interstate transportation.
1962 During the unsuccessful Albany, Georgia movement, King is arrested on July 27 and jailed.
1963 On Good Friday, April 12, King is arrested with Ralph Abernathy by Police Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor for demonstrating without a permit.

On April 13, the Birmingham campaign is launched. This would prove to be the turning point in the war to end desegregation in the South.

During the eleven days he spent in jail, MLK writes his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail

On May 10, the Birmingham agreement is announced. The stores, restaurants, and schools will be desegregated, hiring of blacks implemented, and charges dropped.

On June 23, MLK leads 125,000 people on a Freedom Walk in Detroit.

The March on Washington held August 28 is the largest civil rights demonstration in history with nearly 250,000 people in attendance.

At the march, King makes his famous I Have a Dream speech.

On November 22, President Kennedy is assassinated. 1964 On January 3, King appears on the cover of Time magazine as its Man of the Year.

King attends the signing ceremony of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the White House on July 2.

During the summer, King experiences his first hurtful rejection by black people when he is stoned by Black Muslims in Harlem.

King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10. Dr. King is the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Peace at age 35.
1965 On February 2, King is arrested in Selma, Alabama during a voting rights demonstration.

After President Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act into law, turns to socioeconomic problems.
1966 On January 22, King moves into a Chicago slum tenement to attract attention to the living conditions of the poor.

In June, King and others begin the March Against Fear through the South.

On July 10, King initiates a campaign to end discrimination in housing, employment, and schools in Chicago.
1967 The Supreme Court upholds a conviction of MLK by a Birmingham court for demonstrating without a permit. King spends four days in Birmingham jail.

On November 27, King announces the inception of the Poor People's Campaign focusing on jobs and freedom for the poor of all races.
1968 King announces that the Poor People's Campaign will culminate in a March on Washington demanding a $12 billion Economic Bill of Rights guaranteeing employment to the able-bodied, incomes to those unable to work, and an end to housing discrimination.

Dr. King marches in support of sanitation workers on strike in Memphis, Tennessee.

On March 28, King lead a march that turns violent. This was the first time one of his events had turned violent.

Delivered I've Been to the Mountaintop speech.
At sunset on April 4, is fatally shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

There are riots and disturbances in 130 American cities. There were twenty thousand arrests.

King's funeral on April 9 is an international event.




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