MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Born to a pastor and a school teacher, Martin Luther King Jr. was born to do great things for black communities during a time where those thiNgs were so desperately needed. Gaining a background in Medicine, Law and Theology would equip Dr. King with the resources necessary to provide support for the inequalities and injustices that affected him and his fellow black Americans. After finishing graduate school in Boston and getting married, King moved his family to the highly segregated city of Montgomery, Alabama where he would become a pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Within a year, Montgomery would go from being like many other segregated southern cities to becoming the epicenter of the fight for civil rights in America, with Dr. King being in the middle of it all.
In December of 1955, Martin Luther King Jr. was pegged as the official spokesperson and leader of a protest against the Bus system in Montgomery after the famous Rosa Parks incident where she refused to give up her seat for a person of white skin. The protest would last almost 400 days, and Dr. King was at the forefront of it all. Because of the success of the boycott and protest (The Supreme Court ruled in favor of desegregation on busses), Dr. King sought out to make more positive changes towards equality when he helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), with their goal being to achieve full equality through nonviolence actions. The pastor and president of the SCLC would travel around the world, promoting boycotts, sit-ins, and protests of the non-violent nature to promote Civil Rights to all.
Perhaps the most influential and monumental moment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s storied activism career was the march he lead on Washington in 1963. King organized somewhere between 200,000 and 300,000 African Americans from around the country to participate in a peaceful political rally with the goal of achieving freedom and jobs for fellow Americans all across the United States. This rally culminated with the famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The speech is now known by every child in America because of its impact on our society. He would be awarded the TIME magazine “Man of the Year” award and the Nobel Peace Prize because of his courageous and heroic action in Washington and elsewhere during this critical point in history.
While still fighting for civil rights, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 by James Earl Ray in Memphis Tennessee. At the time of his death, he was still the president of the SCLC. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating U.S. Federal Holiday to honor Dr. King, a certainly well-deserved holiday. It is no far stretch to think that the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act would never have come to fruition if it wasn’t for the actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.