A retrospective: Martin Luther King Jr.

‘Michael King Jr.‘ was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and was christened Michael but later had his name changed to Martin. His life was surrounded by the church as his grandfather, and father were pastors at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In his teenage years he studied at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he did a three year course on theology, and then a doctorate at Boston University where he graduated in 1955.

“Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

He got a role as pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and this is where he began to advocate for racial equality and joined the committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. During his time as a protestor he was arrested over twenty times, and his home was bombed, but he was a determined man and this just encouraged him even more. The civil rights movement was getting stronger and its voice was being heard, and in 1957 he became elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In 1963 the March on Washington became synonymous with the Civil Rights Movement, which saw 250,000 people gather by the Lincoln memorial in Washington D.C, America’s capital city. The world’s press were there, who took note of the various speeches by activists, and most notably the speech that made Martin Luther King, Jr infamous.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!” – Martin Luther King, Jr

In 1964, at just 35 years old, King became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace prize for his contributions to racial equality through non violent methods. The United States of America created a landmark moment when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 essentially made discrimination illegal. There’s just too much to quote as it’s an extremely lengthy, but to put it simply, it outlawed public segregation, and made employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or sex against the law.

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing. – Martin Luther King, Jr

In Memphis, Tennessee, April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr was staying at the Lorraine Motel. ‘James Earl Ray‘ fired a rifle containing a .30 bullet at King when he was stood on the balcony of the second floor of the motel.

“The bullet entered through King’s right cheek, breaking his jaw and several vertebrae as it traveled down his spinal cord, severing his jugular vein and major arteries in the process, before lodging in his shoulder” – Wikipedia

He was rushed to the local hospital, but surgeons were unable to save his life and he died just over an hour after he was shot. King instantly became a Martyr to the Civil Rights Movement across the world, as he died for his passion and his beliefs.

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