Today, we stop to remember and honor one of the most well known and respected civil rights leader in American history, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. As we know, MLK was the driving force in the push for civil rights for people of color. This large push for equal rights ultimately lead to the passing of several civil rights acts in the 1960s and ended state mandated segregation in the United States. What really made him stand out was his commitment to non-violence during his marches. So, this is going to be a basic overview of his life and how he became the leader he was.
Martin Luther King Jr was born on this day January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, Ga. In his early years, he attended Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta where his father Martin Luther King Sr. was a pastor at. He experienced racial discrimination early as a child. When he was about 6 years old he befriended a young white boy, but unfortunately when he started school, his friend’s father didn’t want him hang out Martin anymore. He also suffered from depression and even at one point, he attempted suicide by jumping out of a 2 story building, thankfully he survived. Later on, he went on to attend college at Boston university to get his PhD. He graduated on June 5th, 1955. In 1953 he married Coretta Scott and had 3 children. In 1954 he became a pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Al.
In 1955, after 2 women Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin refused to give up their bus seats to white people, MLK lead a boycott against public Montgomery buses, and lasted for about 385 days. This soon started a chain reaction that lead to the formation of civil rights groups and marches. On August 28th, 1963 MLK lead a large march in Washington D.C. along with about 250,000 other people. This is where he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. This led to the passing of the civil rights act of 1964. For the years coming after that, life for people of color in the US got significantly better.
On March 28th, 1968, he went to Memphis, Tn to support black sanitary public works employees on strike for better treatment and higher wages. Then, on April 3rd, 1968 6:01 pm, a man named James Earl Ray fatally shot Dr. King and later died at 7:05 pm at St. Joseph’s Hospital. The assassination sparked several riots throughout the country. Ray was captured two months later and sentenced to 99 years in prison.
Reverend Martin Luther King, still remains today one of the most influential people in America. One of the big things that I really loved about him was, not only his courage to stand up to oppression, but also his strong love for God. I think his relationship with Jesus is one of the key factors that influenced him to become an activist. I hope and pray that he continues to be a big influence on people like was then and is today.