The Life and Times of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the eldest of Martin

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

age 18.

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...
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