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Martin Luther King Junior

Martin Luther King Junior
MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR PART – 1

• King was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, to the Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. King was a middle child, between older sister Christine King Farris and younger brother A.D. King.
• Michael King Sr. stepped in as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church upon the death of his father-in-law in 1931. He too became a successful minister, and adopted the name Martin Luther King Sr. in honor of the German Protestant religious leader Martin Luther.
• King suffered from depression throughout much of his life. At the age of 12, shortly after his maternal grandmother died, King blamed himself and jumped out of a second-story window, but survived.

CHILDHOOD

• The King children grew up in a secure and loving environment. Martin Sr. was more the disciplinarian, while his wife’s gentleness easily balanced out the father’s more strict hand. Though they undoubtedly tried, Martin Jr.’s parents couldn’t shield him completely from racism.
• Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, Martin Luther King Jr. entered public school at age 5. In May, 1936 he was baptized, but the event made little impression on him. King attended Booker T. Washington High School, where he was said to be a precocious student.
• He was a popular student, , but an unmotivated student who floated though his first two years. Although his family was deeply involved in the church and worship, young Martin questioned religion in general and felt uncomfortable with overly emotional displays of religious worship.
• He became known for his public speaking ability and was part of the school’s debate team.

CHILDHOOD YOUNG MARTIN

• The summer before his last year at Morehouse, in 1947, the 18-year old King chose to enter the ministry. In 1948, Martin Luther King Jr. earned a sociology degree from Morehouse College and attended the liberal Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania.
• He thrived in all his studies, and was valedictorian of his class in 1951, and elected student body president. He also earned a fellowship for graduate study. King married Coretta Scott on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents’ house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama.
• They became the parents of four children: Yolanda King (1955–2007), Martin Luthe King III (b. 1957), Dexter Scott King (b. 1961), and Bernice King (b. 1963). During their marriage, King limited Coretta’s role in the civil rights movement, expecting her to be a housewife and mother.
• At age 25 in 1954, King was called as pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT, 1955

• King began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Ph.D. degree on June 5, 1955.
• In March 1955, Claudette Colvin—a fifteen-year-old black schoolgirl in  Montgomery—refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in violation local laws in the Southern United States that enforced racial segregation.
• King was on the committee from the Birmingham African-American community that looked into the case; E. D. Nixon and Clifford Durr decided to wait for a better case to pursue because the incident involved a minor.
• Nine months later on December 1, 1955, a similar incident occurred when Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus. The two incidents led to the Montgomery bus boycott, which was urged and planned by Nixon and led by King. The boycott lasted for 385
days, and the situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed.

LEADERSHIP

• After being defeated in several lower court rulings and suffering large financial losses, the city of Montgomery lifted the law mandating segregated public transportation. King’s role in the bus boycott transformed him into a national figure and the best-known spokesman of the civil rights movement.
• Flush with victory, African-American civil rights leaders recognized the need for a national organization to help coordinate their efforts. In January 1957, Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and 60 ministers and civil rights activists founded the SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE to harness the moral authority and organizing power of
black churches.

• They would help conduct non-violent protests to promote civil rights reform. King’s participation in the organization gave him a base of operation throughout the South, as well as a national platform.

LEADERSHIP

• The organization felt the best place to start to give African Americans a voice was to enfranchise them in the voting process. In February 1958, the SCLC sponsored more than 20 mass meetings in key southern cities to register black voters in the South. King met with religious and civil rights leaders and lectured all over the country on race-related issues.
• In 1959, with the help of the American Friends Service Committee, and inspired by Gandhi’s success with non-violent activism, Martin Luther King visited Gandhi’s birthplace in India. The trip affected him in a deeply profound way, increasing his commitment to America’s
civil rights struggle.
• African-American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who had studied Gandhi’s teachings, became one of King’s associates and counseled him to dedicate himself to the principles of non-violence. Rustin served as King’s mentor and advisor throughout his early activism and was the main organizer of the 1963 March on Washington.

LEADERSHIP

• The FBI was under written directive from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy when it began tapping King’s telephone line in the fall of 1963.
• King believed that organized, nonviolent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow laws would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights. It worked and produced a wave of sympathetic attitude towards this
movement and whites also started to join on large scale.
• King organized and led marches for blacks’ right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into the law of the United States with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

LEADERSHIP

• By 1960, Martin Luther King Jr. was gaining national notoriety. On October 19, 1960, King and 75 students entered a local department store and requested lunch-counter service but were denied.
• When they refused to leave the counter area, King and 36 others were arrested. Realizing the incident would hurt the city’s reputation, Atlanta’s mayor negotiated a truce and charges were eventually dropped. But soon after, King was imprisoned for violating his probation on a traffic
conviction.
• The news of his imprisonment entered the 1960 presidential campaign, when candidate John F. Kennedy made a phone call to Coretta Scott King. Kennedy expressed his concern for King’s harsh treatment for the traffic ticket and political pressure was quickly set in motion. King was
soon released.

• “We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being
treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”

JIM CROWS LAWS FOR RACIAL SEGREGATION

• Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. Enacted by white Democratic-dominated state legislatures in the late 19th century after the Reconstruction period, these laws continued to be enforced until 1965.
• They mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in the states of the former Confederate States of America, starting in the 1870s and 1880s, and upheld by the United States Supreme Court’s “separate but equal” doctrine for African Americans. Public education had essentially been segregated since its establishment in most of the South after the Civil War.
• This principle was extended to public facilities and transportation, including segregated cars on interstate trains and, later, buses. Facilities for African Americans were consistently inferior and underfunded compared to those nwhich were then available to white Americans;  sometimes they did not exist at all.

MOVEMENTS

• ALBANY MOVEMENT,1961 The Albany Movement was a desegregation coalition formed in Albany, Georgia, in November 1961. In December, King and the SCLC became involved. The movement mobilized thousands of citizens for a broad-front nonviolent attack on every aspect of segregation within the city and attracted nationwide attention. When King first visited on December 15, 1961.
• Birmingham campaign, 1963 the SCLC began a campaign against racial segregation and economic injustice in Birmingham, Alabama. The campaign used nonviolent but intentionally confrontational tactics, developed in part by Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker. Black people in Birmingham, organizing with the SCLC, occupied public spaces with marches and sitins,
openly violating laws that they considered unjust.

MARCH ON WASHINGTON IN 1963

• On August 28, 1963, the historic March on Washington drew more than 200,000 people in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. It was here that King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, emphasizing his belief that someday all men could be brothers.
• The march originally was conceived as an event to dramatize the desperate condition of blacks in the southern U.S. and an opportunity to place organizers’ concerns and grievances squarely before the seat of power in the nation’s capital.
• The march made specific demands: an end to racial segregation in public schools; 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 Washington D.C.
• Despite tensions, the march was a resounding success. 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 protesters in Washington, D.C.’s history.

SELMA, ALABAMA, 1964

• In December 1964, King and the SCLC joined forces with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Selma, Alabama, where the SNCC had been working on voter registration for several months.
• A local judge issued an injunction that barred any gathering of three or more people affiliated with the SNCC, SCLC, DCVL, or any of 41 named civil rights leaders. This injunction temporarily halted civil rights activity until King defied it by speaking at Brown Chapel on January 2, 1965.
• During the 1965 march to Montgomery, Alabama, violence by state police and others against the peaceful marchers resulted in much publicity, which made Alabama’s racism visible nationwide SELMA, ALABAMA
• On March 7, 1965, a civil rights march, planned from Selma to Alabama’s capital in Montgomery, turned violent as police with nightsticks and tear gas met the demonstrators as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
• Seventeen demonstrators were hospitalized in a day that would be called “Bloody Sunday. A second march was cancelled due to a restraining order to prevent the march from taking place. A third march was planned and this time King made sure he was part of it.
• On March 9, 1965, a procession of 2,500 marchers, both black and white, set out once again to cross the Pettus Bridge and confronted barricades and state troopers.
• On March 21, approximately 2,000 people began a march from Selma to the capitol in Montgomery. On March 25, the number of marchers, which had grown to an estimated 25,000, gathered in front of the state capitol where Dr. King delivered a televised speech. Five months after the historic peaceful protest, President Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

VIETNAM WAR

• King was long opposed to American involvement in the Vietnam War, but at first avoided the topic in public speeches in order to avoid the interference with civil rights goals that criticism of President Johnson’s policies might have created.
• During an April 4, 1967, appearance at the New York City Riverside Church—exactly one year before his death—King delivered a speech titled “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.“
• He spoke strongly against the U.S.’s role in the war, arguing that the U.S. was in Vietnam “to occupy it as an American colony” and calling the U.S. government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” He also connected the war with economic injustice, arguing that the country needed serious moral change
• King also opposed the Vietnam War because it took money and resources that could have been spent on social welfare at home. The United States Congress was spending more and more on the military and less and less on anti-poverty programs.

VIETNAM WAR

• King began to speak of the need for fundamental changes in the political and economic life of the nation, and more frequently expressed his opposition to the war and his desire to see a redistribution of resources to correct racial and economic injustice.
• He guarded his language in public to avoid being linked to communism by his enemies, but in private he sometimes spoke of his support for democratic socialism.
• On April 15, 1967, King participated and spoke at an anti-war march from Manhattan’s Central Park to the United Nations. The march was organized by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam and initiated by its chairman, James Bevel.

DEATH

• By 1968, the years of demonstrations and confrontations were beginning to wear on Martin Luther King Jr. He had grown tired of marches, going to jail, and living under the constant threat of death.
• He was becoming discouraged at the slow progress of civil rights in America and the increasing criticism from other African-American leaders. Plans were in the works for another march on Washington to revive his movement and bring attention to a widening range of issues.
• While standing on a balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel, Martin Luther King Jr. was struck by a sniper’s bullet. The shooter, a malcontent drifter and former convict named James Earl Ray, was eventually apprehended after a two-month, international manhunt. The killing sparked riots and demonstrations in more than 100 cities across the country.
• In 1969, Ray pleaded guilty to assassinating King and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He died in prison on April 23, 1998.

HONORS

• On October 14, 1964, King became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded to him for leading nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in the U.S.
• In 1971 he was posthumously awarded a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for his Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam.In 1977, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was posthumously awarded to King by President Jimmy Carter.
• King and his wife were also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.King was second in Gallup’s List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century. In 1963, he was named Time Person of the Year, and in 2000, he was voted sixth in an online “Person of the Century” poll by the same magazine.