Luther King, Sr., a Baptist minister, and Alberta Williams King. His Father served as a
pastor of a large Atlanta church, Ebenezer Baptist, which had been founded by Martin
Luther King, Jr.'s maternal grandfather. King, Jr., was ordainded as a Baptist minister at
King attended local segrated public school, where he excelled. He entered a
nearby college, Morehouse College, at age 15 and graduated with a bachelor's degree in
sociology in 1948. After graduating with honors from Crozer Theological Seminary in
Pennsylvania in 1951, he went to Boston University where he earned a doctoral degree in
systematic theology in 1955.
While in Boston, King met Coretta Scott, a music student and native of Alabama.
They were married in 1953 and had four children. In 1954 King accepted his first
pastorate at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Mongomery, Alabama. This was a
church with a well educated congregation that had recently been led by a minister who had
protested against segregation.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lead many of the peaceful demonstrations protesting
the segregation between blacks and whites. His peaceful approach to many of the
obstacles in the way of integration was the most successful during that time period. Other
more violent means of protest such as the efforts of Malcolm X and whites protesting
integration were considered less seriously and seen as a greater threat to society.
Examples of King's peaceful protesting against segregation were during the 1955- 1956
Montgomery bus boycott. It begain when a 43 year old black woman, Rosa Parks, refused
to give up her seat to a white man. Dr. King was appalled when she was arrested and
urged the black population of Montgomery to join together and stand up to the
dehumanization of segregation. Together with local community leaders, King produced
and distributed nearly 7,000 leaflets persuading blacks to completely avoid riding to buses
work, town, school, or elsewhere. Instead, people should take cabs, carpool, or walk.
King was worried that the boycott was unethical, would turn violent, or would intimidate
blacks However the boycott was succsessful with nearly 100% participation level.
In 1956 the Supreme court affirmed a decision declaring that state and local laws
supporting segregation on buses were unethical. On December 1, city busses were
integrated showing that the boycott had been sucsessful. The civil rigths movement took a
big step forward during the Greensboro sit-ins. Each day of the sit-ins the number of
participants increased. The pressure they put on Woolworths, their original target, caused
profits to be decreased by 50% in 1950. Eventually on July 25, the first black person was
allowed to eat at the lunch counter. These sit-ins also caused the formation of crucial
organizations. Student Non-violent Coodinating Committee (SNCC) was founded by the
students involved in the sit-ins. SNCC drafted a code to be used by the entire non-violent
movement. Some of the points in the code included don't strike back, don't laugh out,
don't hold converstaions with floor walkers, and remember love and non-violence Though
King was not directly involved in the sit-ins, he was the moral leader and inspiration for
the whole movement. Knowing King's strong belief in equality and integration , when
Philip Randolph planned The March on Washington he asked King to organize and speak
at the event. The purpose of the demonstration was to demand strong federal protection
of black rights and to inspire the people. Other unsucsessful demonstrations had been
planned in the past but failed due to the use of militant, more violent means of protest.
Many government officials were strongly against The March on...