At 39 years old, Martin Luther King Jr. has this physical status:
Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Christian minister and activist who became the country's most prominent spokesperson and king in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 to his assassination in 1968.
King is best known for advancing civil rights by nonviolence and civil disobedience, influenced by his Christian values and Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolent activism. King commanded the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott, and in 1957 he became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
He fought in segregation in Albany, Georgia, and was instrumental in the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama.
He helped organise the 1963 March in Washington, where he delivered his well-known "I Have a Dream" address. On October 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial injustice by nonviolent resistance.
He was instrumental in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965.
He and the SCLC migrated north to Chicago to work on segregated housing for the first year.
He broadened his focus in his last years to include resistance against poverty and the Vietnam War.
With a 1967 address titled "Beyond Vietnam," he alienated many of his liberal allies.
J.Edgar Hoover regarded him as a revolutionary and made him an object of the FBI's COINTELPRO program from 1963 to 1963.
FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, videoteched their extramarital affairs, and told government authorities, and on one occasion, he wrote a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to compel him to suicide. As King was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee, he planned a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be known as the Poor People's Campaign.
In several U.S. cities, demonstrations followed his death.
James Earl Ray, the man accused of murdering King James Earl Ray, had been framed or acting in concert with government agents for decades after the shooting.
Ray was sentenced to 99 years in prison for King's murder, effectively a life term, as Ray was 41 at the time of his arrest, but he died of hepatitis while in jail in 1998. The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal were subsequently given to King James.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a federal holiday in many cities and states beginning in 1971; the holiday was first enforced in 1986 by laws enacted by President Ronald Reagan.
Hundreds of streets around the United States have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington has been named in his honor.
In 2011, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated.
Early life and education
Michael King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the second of three children to Michael King and Alberta King (née Williams). The King of France had an older sister, Christine King Farris, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel "A.D." King. Adam Daniel Williams, the father of Alberta's rural Georgia, migrated to Atlanta in 1893 and became the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in the following year. Jennie Celeste Parks was married by Williams. King, Sr., was born in Stockbridge, Georgia, to sharecroppers James Albert and Delia King, and was of African-Irish descent. King Sr. left his parents' farm and walked to Atlanta, where he completed a high school education and enrolled in Morehouse College to prepare for admission to the ministry in his adolescent years. King Sr. and Alberta first began dating in 1920 and married on November 25, 1926. They lived together on the second floor of Alberta's parents' two-story Victorian house, where the King was born before Jennie's death in 1941.
King Sr. became the Ebenezer church's assistant pastor a few years after marrying Alberta. Williams senior pastor Williams died in 1931, and King Sr. took over the role in the fall, where he would eventually lift the attendance from six hundred to several thousand. The church sent King Sr. on a global trip in 1934, including to Berlin for the Baptist World Alliance's Congress (BWA). He also visited places in Germany that were associated with Martin Luther, the Reformation king. The rise of Nazism was visible among King Sr. and the BWA delegates there. In reaction, the BWA released a statement saying, "This Congress deplodes and condemns as a breach of God the Heavenly Father, all racial animosity, and every form of injustice or unfair discrimination against the Jews, toward coloured people, or any other part of the world." On returning home in August 1934, King Sr. changed his name to Martin Luther King Jr., and his 5 year old son's name to Martin Luther King Jr.
The King and his two children would read aloud the Bible as instructed by their father at his childhood home. Jennie, King's grandmother who he affectionately referred to as "Mama," will share lively tales from the Bible to her grandchildren at dinners. Whistles would discipline his children on a daily basis. King Sr. will sometimes whip his children on each other. "[King] was the most unusual boy ever whipped him," the King's father later explained. He'd stood there, and the tears would have flown down, and he'd never cry." As the King was emotionally ill for his sister Christine, he took a telephone and knocked out A.D. A.D. slid from a banister and into her grandmother, Jennie, when she was unresponsive when she and his brother were playing at their house. The king, who died, blamed herself and attempted suicide by jumped from a second-story window. On learning that his grandmother was alive, King Henry rose and ploded the ground where he had fallen.
The King and a white boy whose father owned a store across the street from his family's house became friends. They started school in September 1935, when the boys were about six years old. Although his closest playmate went to a separate school for white students only, the King had to attend a black school, Younge Street Elementary School. The parents of the white boy stopped allowing their son to play with their son right away, saying, "We are white, and you are colored." The family's ancestorship and bigotry in America when King related the events to their parents. King would later state that he was "determined to hate every white person" after learning of the ferocious hatred, violence, and oppression that black people suffered in the United States. He was taught by his parents that it was his Christian duty to love everyone.
The king watched his father protest segregation and other forms of discrimination. Once, when a police officer stopped King Sr. as "boy," King Sr.'s father screamed that the King was a boy, but he was a man. The clerk told the customers they had to wait in the back when the King's father took him into a shoe store in downtown Atlanta. Before taking King and leaving the store, the King's father refused, saying "we'll either buy shoes sitting here or we won't buy any shoes at all." "I don't care how long I have to live with this system, I will never accept it," he told King afterward. Hundreds of African Americans marched in 1936 to oppose voting rights discrimination in Atlanta. King Sr. was "a true father" to him, according to the King.
By the time he was five years old, the King remembered and performed hymns as well as Biblical verses. He began attending church services with his mother and performing hymns as she played piano over the next year. "I Want to Be More Like Jesus" was his favorite hymn to sing; he moved audiences with his performances. Later, King James became a member of the junior choir in his congregation. The king loved opera and played the piano. King George acquired a large vocabulary from reading dictionaries and frequently used his expanding vocabulary as he grew up. He was involved in physical altercations with boys in his neighborhood, but he used his words to stymie combats quite often. The king exhibited a lack of interest in grammar and spelling, a characteristic he had throughout his life. For the all-white audience at the Atlanta premiere of the film Gone with the Wind in 1939, King sang as a member of his church choir in slave costume. King was enrolled in the seventh grade at the Atlanta University Laboratory School in September 1940, at the age of 11. King Charles Irma took violin and piano lessons while he was in Paris and expressed an intense interest in his history and English classes.
King Edward VII, who had escaped from studying at home to watch a parade, was informed that something had happened to his maternal grandmother on May 18, 1941. On returning home, he discovered that she had suffered a heart attack and died while being taken to a hospital. He fought the suicide, and he believed the deception of going to see the parade might have been responsible for God's sending her. The king jumped out of a second-story window at his house but survived an attempt to murder himself. In his bedroom, his father told him that King should not blame herself for his death, and that she had been sent home to God as part of God's scheme that could not be altered. The king struggled with this, and he could not fully believe that his parents knew where his grandmother had gone. The King's father moved the family to a two-story brick home on a hill that overlooked downtown Atlanta a little while later.
He first felt anger against whites as a result of the "racial injustice" that he, his family, and his neighbors often had to endure in the segregated South. He was the youngest assistant manager of a newspaper distribution station in 1942, when King was 13 years old. King skipped the ninth grade and began his ninth grade at Booker T. Washington High School, where he maintained a B-plus average. The high school was the only one in the city for African-American students. It was established after local black leaders, including King's grandfather (Williams), pleaded with Atlanta's city government to create it.
Although King was brought up in a Baptist household, King Stephen became suspicious of some of Christianity's assertions as he entered adolescence. He began to question the literalist teachings at his father's church. He denied Jesus' bodily resurrection at the age of 13. King said he was unable to relate with the congregants' emotional expressions and gestures, and questioned if he would ever find personal satisfaction from religion. "Doubts began to spring forth unrelently" at this point in his life, he later said.
King was known for his public speaking skills in high school, but he had a voice that had morphed into an orote baritone. He then joined the school's debate team. While at the academy, the king continued to be most drawn to history and English, choosing English and sociology as his primary subjects. The King had a long vocabulary. However, he relying on his sister, Christine, to help him with his spelling, while the King helped her with math. They did not study in this way until Christine's graduation from high school. The King also took an interest in fashion, adorning himself in sleek patent leather shoes and tweed suits, earning him the nickname "Tweed" or "Tweedie" among his friends. He began to enjoy flirting with girls and dancing. Later, his brother A. D.'s remarked, "He went from chick to chick, and I couldn't keep up with him." Especially because he was so into dances and that this was just about the best jitterbug in town.
King gave his first public speech in his junior year on April 13, 1944, during an Oratorical competition sponsored by the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World. "Black America still wears chains," he said in his address. The finest negro is at the mercy of the cruelest white man. And class distinction bars are also present for our top awards. The King was selected as the king of the competition. The driver and his instructor were instructed by the driver to stand on the ride home to Atlanta by bus so that white passengers could sit down. The bus's driver called King a "black son-of-a-bitch." The King initially refused but relented after his teacher told him that if he did not follow the driver's instructions, he would be breaking the rules. Since all the seats were occupied, he and his instructor were forced to sit on the remainder of the ride back to Atlanta. Later King reminisced of the incident, adding, "That night will never leave my memory." It was the angriest I had ever been in my life."
Morehouse College, an all-male historically black college that King's father and maternal grandfather attended, began admitting high school juniors who failed the school's entrance exam during King's junior year in high school. Many black college students had been enlisted in the war as World War II was underway, lowering the number of students at Morehouse College. So, the university aimed to raise student numbers by encouraging junior high school students to enroll. King passed the entrance exam and was enrolled at the university for the school year in 1944.
He and a group of other Morehouse College students rode a train to Simsbury, Connecticut, where they joined Cullman Brothers Tobacco (a cigar business) in the summer. This was King's first trip outside of the segregated south into the unincorporated north. "On our way here we saw some things I had never imagined seeing," King wrote in a letter to his father in June 1944. There was no discrimination at all when we got to Washington. The white people here are very polite. We go to wherever we want to and sit anywhere we want to." Since the farm had partnered with the college to defer to the university's tuition, housing, and other charges, the students were able to pay for their educational expenses at Morehouse College. During weekdays, King and the other students fought in the fields, harvesting cigarette from 7:00 a.m. to about USD$4 per day. On Friday evenings, King and the other students toured downtown Simsbury to get milkshakes and watch films, and on Saturday, they will fly to Hartford, Connecticut, to see theatre performances, shop, and dine in restaurants. On Sunday, they would return to Hartford to attend church services at a church that was packed with white congregationals. The King screamed over segregation in Connecticut, telling his parents how they should dine "one of Hartford's finest restaurants" and that "Negroes and whites go to the same church."
He appeared in freshman football. The 18-year-old King of Morehouse wanted to enter the ministry in the summer before his last year in Morehouse, 1947. King studied under the leadership of its chairman, Baptist minister Benjamin Mays, who would later praise for his service as his "spiritual mentor." The King had come to the conclusion that the church was the most convincing way to answer "an inner desire to serve humanity." His "inner urge" had started circulating, and he made peace with the Baptist Church as he predicted he would be a "rational" minister with sermons that would be "a respectful power for ideas and even social protest." In 1948, King graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in sociology, at the age of nineteen.
Education, ministry, marriage, and families.
In Upland, Pennsylvania, the king is enrolled in the Crozer Theological Seminary. The King's father, William, accepted his education and made arrangements for him to work with J. Pius Barbour, a family friend of Calvary Baptist Church in nearby Chester, Pennsylvania. King was regarded as one of the "Sons of Calvary" in the black church, an honor he shared with William Augustus Jones Jr. and Samuel D. Proctor, who went on to become well-known preachers.
Walter McCall, a former classmate of Morehouse, joined King George Crozer in Crozer. King was elected president of the student body at Crozer. The African-American students of Crozer performed the bulk of their social life on Edwards Street. Since a classmate had an aunt who prepared collard greens for them, the King became fond of the street.
Another student was once punished for pouring beer in his room, but both African Americans shared responsibility to shoulder "the burdens of the Negro race." For a time, Walter Rauschenbusch's "social gospel" intrigued him. King became romantically linked with the white daughter of an immigrant German woman who worked as a cook in Crozer's third year. Prior to her relationship with the King, the woman had been involved with a scholar. The queen intended to marry her but friends advised against it, saying that an interracial marriage would spark animosity from both blacks and whites, potentially jeopardizing his chances of ever pastoring a church in the South. The King sobbed about his mother's pain over the marriage that he ended the marriage six months later. He continued to have lingering feelings against the woman he left; one friend said, "He never recovered." (B.Div.) The King obtained a Bachelor of Divinity (B.Div.) In 1951, he obtained a degree. He applied to the University of Edinburgh to do his doctorate in the School of Divinity. Edinburgh had made an invitation but the Boston one took their place.
King began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University in 1951. King served as an assistant minister at Boston's historic Twelfth Baptist Church, alongside William Hunter Hester, while pursuing doctoral studies. Hester was a long friend of King's father and had a major influence on the King. King befriended a select group of local ministers in Boston and occasionally guest pastored at their churches, including Michael Haynes, associate pastor at Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury (and younger brother of jazz drummer Roy Haynes). In their various apartments, the young men held bull sessions often discussing theology, sermon style, and social problems.
In 1952 and 1953, King attended philosophy classes at Harvard University as an audit student.
King was appointed pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, at the age of 25 in 1954. King received his Ph.D. degree in 1955 with a dissertation (initially supervised by Edgar S. Brightman, and Lotan Harold DeWolf) titled A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thoughts of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman's Philosophy.
According to an academic inquiry, portions of his doctoral dissertation had been plagiarized and he had behaved incorrectly. Nonetheless, "[d]essing its conclusion, the committee found that "no reason should be given to Dr. King's doctoral degree revocation," a decision that the panel said would have no use." The committee found that the dissertation "has a strong contribution to scholarship." A letter has been attached to a copy of King's dissertation that was on display in the university library, noting that many passages were included in the university library without providing the appropriate quotations and citations. A substantial debate exists over how to interpret King's plagiarism.
When attending Boston University, he asked Mary Powell, a New England Conservatory of Music undergraduate, if she knew any good Southern girls. Coretta Scott, a fellow student, asked if she was interested in meeting a Southern friend who was studying divinity. Scott was not keen on dating preachers, but eventually agreed to phone Martin based on Powell's description and vouching. On their first phone call, King told Scott, "I am like Napoleon at Waterloo," she replied, "You haven't even met me." They were out for dates in his green Chevy. The King was absolutely certain Scott had the attributes he wanted in a wife after his second date. Carol and Rod Serling, a classmate, had been an activist at Antioch in undergrad, where she and David Serling were schoolmates.
Coretta Scott married Coretta Scott on the lawn of her parents' house in Heiberger, Alabama, on June 18, 1953. They became the parents of four children: Yolanda King (1955–2007), Martin Luther King III (b. ), and Martin Luther King III (b. Dexter Scott King, 1957 (b. ), is a fictional actor who appeared on television. Bernice King (b. 1961) and Elvis (b. 1963. During her marriage, King restricted Coretta's involvement in the civil rights movement, wishing her to be a housewife and mother.
King returned to Atlanta at the request of the SCLC in December 1959, after being based in Montgomery for five years. King continued to preach with his father at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta until his death, and he helped spread the Civil Rights Movement throughout the South.