Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968), was an American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the African-American civil rights movement. His main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the United States and he's frequently referenced as a human rights icon today. King's recognised as a martyr by two Christian churches. A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president. King's efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. There, he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in U.S. History.
In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non- violent means. By the time of his death in 1968, he'd refocused his efforts on ending poverty and opposing the Vietnam War, both from a religious perspective. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and
Congressional Gold Medal in 2004; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a USA National holiday in 1986.
Early life Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the son of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. King's father was born "Michael King," and Martin Luther King, Jr., was originally named "Michael King, Jr.," until the family travelled to Europe in 1934 and visited Germany. His father soon changed both of their names to Martin in honolr of the German Protestant leader Martin Luther. He'd an older sister, Willie Christine King, and a younger brother Alfred Daniel Williams King.
King sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind. Growing up in Atlanta, King attended Booker T. Washington High School. He skipped ninth and twelfth grade, and entered Morehouse College at age fifteen without formally graduating from high school. In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951. King then began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Doctor of Philosophy on June 5, 1955. A 1980s enquiry concluded portions of his dissertation had been plagiarised and he'd acted improperly but that his dissertation still "makes an intelligent contribution to scholarship."
King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents' house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama. King and Scott had four children; Yolanda King, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott King, and Bernice King. King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama when he was twenty-five years old in 1954.
Listen to an inspiring sermon from Martin Luther King, Jr. In this speech, delivered in the year he was assassinated, Dr. King looks back on his life and hopes he will be remembered as a "Drum Major for Justice". King sees the importance in the "drum major instinct" that drives us to lead and be recognized, but points out through Christ's teachings that the greatest leaders are those who serve others and put justice before their own gain. This 20-minute sermon is available on streaming audio from History and Politics Out Loud and can be played through Real Player (the last sentence gets cut off but it is the full speech). Learn Out Loud
Martin Luther King Jnr