I’m sure that everyone knows who Martin Luther King, Jr. is. After all, the man has an American federal holiday that marks his birthday each year. Though his birthday is January 15, we observe it on the third Monday of January. That day is today.
King was born in 1929 to a teacher and Baptist minister. Born and raised, King attended school from grade school to high school to college, all in his hometown of Atlanta. He was 19 when he received his Bachelors in sociology from Morehouse College.
After Morehouse College, he attended the Crozer Theological Seminary and then continued his studies, going on to earn his doctorate at Boston University. Around this time, he met a music student named Coretta Scott whom he came to marry. Eventually, the two of them ended up with four beautiful children.
At 25, King became the minister of a Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. It was around this time that King started making changes to things he saw that he didn’t like. His first focus became the segregated Montgomery buses. These buses said that blacks couldn’t sit with whites. So King boycotted these buses and got lots of others to boycott the buses along with him.
The message gained him a reputation on a national level! While his involvement did result in the desegregation of Montgomery buses, it also resulted in the bombing of King’s house. He responded by writing a book about the bus boycott. He also visited India where he studied such subjects as nonviolence as well as civil disobedience.
Upon his return, King was arrested and sent to jail for his participation in nonviolent, anti-segregation protests in Birmingham. But in the same year, King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington.
It wasn’t long after that that Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, putting an end to segregation in the workplace and places of education. King was given the Nobel Peace Prize. At 35, he became the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He turned his prize money of $54,123 over toward the continuance of the civil rights movement.
King’s influence continued to bring about great changes. Congress soon passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which suspended and eventually banned literacy tests as well as any other restrictions that disallowed blacks the right to vote.
While the man brought about great changes, unfortunately his leadership also brought about his untimely death. King was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his motel in Memphis where he was supposed to lead a protest to support black garbage collectors who were going on strike.