Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., originally named Michael King, Jr., was born on January
15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents, Michael King, Sr and Alberta Williams
King were married in 1926, and Michael, Jr was their middle child. In 1931, Michael
Sr. took over as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, after King’s father-in-law,
A. D. Williams died in 1931. King, Jr. entered college at age 15, after skipping
both his freshman and senior years of high school. During his senior year of college,
King decided he would like to pursue a career in the ministry. His undergraduate
degree was in Sociology from Morehouse College, and after graduation he attended
Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. During his senior year, King was mentored
by Reinhold Niebbuhr, who was possibly the most influential person on King’s spiritual
views. Although King had offers from Yale and Edinburgh to pursue his doctorate
degree, he chose Boston University. While at Boston University, King met Coretta
Scott; they were married in June of 1953 and together gave birth to four children,
Yolanda, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott, and Bernice. By the time he turned
25, King had already obtained his PhD and started a family.
Beginning of Civil Rights
1955 marked the beginning of many major changes for Civil Rights. It began with
a young girl refusing a white man her seat on the bus; the girl was later thrown
into prison. Later that year, Rosa Parks was put in a similar situation. She was
arrested and fined for refusing a white man her seat on the bus. That night, King
met with E.D. Nixon, and together the two planned a city-wide bus boycott. The boycott
lasted 382 days, during which African Americans walked to work, facing intimidation
and harassment from opposers. Using the Supreme Court ruling “Separate is never
equal,” African Americans were also able to take legal action against the city of
Montgomery. Eventually, the law requiring separation of races on public transit
In 1959, King made a trip to India, to see Gandhi’s birthplace. King became even
more inspired to pursue Civil Rights after this visit. King represented a non-violent
approach and supported the student “sit-ins” in Greensboro, North Carolina. King
was arrested for refusing to leave after being denied lunch service at a local department
store. Despite the fact King was released, he was later charged with violating his
probation due to a traffic error.
President Kennedy, anticipating the pressure this may put on the 1960 campaign,
made a call expressing his extreme concern for the treatment King was receiving.
Soon thereafter, King was released.
“I have a dream,” August 1963
In 1963, King organized a Civil Rights demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama. City
police did not respect the non-violent approach, and turned hoses on and released
dogs to try to “control” the protesters. King and many of his supporters were thrown
in jail that day; however, the demonstration did succeed in getting national publicity.
Shortly thereafter, on August 28, 1963, King and his supporters marched on towards
the nation’s Capitol; it is here that King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech.
Assassination of MLK
King worked diligently throughout the 1960s in order to gain equal rights among
races. The protesting lifestyle, living in fear of being harassed, assaulted, or
thrown in jail, was wearing him down. He made one last push at a labor strike in
Memphis, TN, in 1968. The following day, he was shot by a sniper named James Earl
Ray. He was caught, charged, and convicted of killing Martin Luther King, Jr. He
was sentenced to 99 years in prison, and died on April 23, 1998 while serving his
At this site, you can listen to some of Dr. Martin Luther King’s most important
speeches and gain an insight to the Civil Rights movement.
- August 28, 1963: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his
famous ‘I have a dream’ speech
- September, 1966: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. explains
why he joined the Civil Rights movement
- April 16, 1967: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. explains
his opposition to the Vietnam War
- January 16, 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his
‘Good Samaritan/If I had sneezed’ speech
- February 4, 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his
‘I am a drum major for justice’ speech