Martin Luther King Jr. History

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia to his parents Michael (Martin Luther) and Alberta Williams King. The King family lived in the area of Auburn Avenue, also known as “Sweet Auburn” which was an area known for prosperous Black churches and businesses. King’s father and maternal grandfather were both Baptist ministers, and King followed in their footsteps. Dr. King graduated high school at age 15, and soon after attended Morehouse College. King went on to attend Crozer Theological Seminary and Boston University. While in Boston, King met Coretta Scott. The two married and had four children, and settled in Montgomery, Alabama.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy and the Civil Rights Movement

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership in the Civil Rights Movement began in 1955 when he was elected the official spokesman for the Montgomery Improvement Association, just prior to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which took place after Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white man and move to the back of the bus. Soon after, Dr. King and a few others, including Ralph AbernathyBayard RustinFred Shuttlesworth, and Joseph Lowery, formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). King and the SCLC were at the forefront of many notable movements during the 50s and 60s, including the Greensboro Sit-Ins, March on Washington, Detroit Freedom Walk, Birmingham Campaign, and much more. Dr. King strived for peace and nonviolence through his movements. King was also a remarkable speaker, through speeches such as “I Have Been to the Mountaintop”, “How Long, Not Long”, and his famous “I Have a Dream”, he was able to connect with American people across the country and encourage others to engage in the movement. 

Assassination and Funeral 

On Thursday, April 4th 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated while on his balcony in a motel in Memphis, Tennessee. King was in Memphis to prepare for a march with Memphis sanitation workers. In the following days, businesses, schools, and other organizations closed their doors and major events were postponed to mourn the death of King. Dr. King’s funeral was attended by an estimated 300,000 people, who filled the streets of Atlanta four miles long. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law as a national holiday on November 2nd 1983 by Ronald Reagan. It falls on the third Monday in January. This year, the holiday falls on January 15th. Some people celebrate this holiday by volunteering in their community, reading books and watching movies about Dr. King’s story, or supporting Black-owned businesses. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most influential and important figures in United States history, having an incalculable impact on the laws, policies, and society as a whole.

 
Bentley, Rosalind, and Ken Guthrie. “Atlanta’s 4-Mile Goodbye to King.” AJC.Com, 1 Apr. 2018, https://specials.myajc.com/mlk-funeral/.
 
“Martin Luther King, Jr. Summary.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, inc., https://britannica.com/summary/Martin-Luther-King-Jr-Timeline.
 
“Martin Luther King, Jr..” NAACP, 11 May 2021, https://naacp.org/find-resources/history-explained/civil-rights-leaders/martin-luther-king-jr.
 
“SCLC History.” The All-New National SCLC, 3 Oct. 2018, https://nationalsclc.org/about/history/. 

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