Baptists > History > Martin Luther King
Pastor, 60s Civil Rights Leader - 1929 to 1968
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   On an early Spring evening on April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King was assassinated.  He was to have lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city.
   King was raised in a southern culture that denied black people their equal rights.  He was indeed the right man to take a stand against racial inequality because, instead of espousing violence and retribution, this Baptist pastor chose to non-violence and the power of preaching to convince a generation.
   King's grandfather began the family's string of pastors at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, serving there from 1914 to 1931.  His father followed and, from 1960 until his death, Martin Luther served as the co-pastor of the
church. 
   Having experienced only segregated schools thorughout his education, he graduated from high school at the age of fifteen.  He received the B. A. degree in 1948 from a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta, Morehouse College.  His  father and grandfather had been graduated from the same college.  His formal education continued at the Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class.  After three years, he was awarded with a bachelor's degree in 1951.  He then enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University where he completed his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and received the degree in 1955.
   King met and married Coretta Scott, while in Boston.  She was a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.
    Now a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, King accepted the pastorate of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1954.  The following year, he led a nonviolent demonstration during the bus boycott that started in early December.  It lasted 382 days.  As a result, the United States Supreme Court ruled that requiring segregation on buses was unconstitutional.  On December 21, 1956, all races were able to ride busses as equals.  However, during the boycott, Martin Luther King had been arrested, his home was bombed, and he was peronally abused.  Still, he refused to retaliate, thus, arising out of the boycott as a highly publisized and respected leader of the equal rights movement.
   In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  This organization was formed to provide fresh new leadership to the growing civil rights movement.  King carried over the ideals of his Biblical Christian beliefs which led him to a nonviolent appraoch to reaching the goals of the movement.
   By 1968, he had traveled over six million miles and delivered over twenty-five hundred addresses, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action. During that same time, he wrote five books as well as numerous articles.  He also led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world.  He also planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters.  His defining moment was when he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C.  250,000 people listened as he delivered his address, "l Have a Dream."   His twenty arrests and four assaults upon his life did not disaude him from his calling.  He was awarded five honorary degrees, was named "Man of the Year" in 1963 by Time magazine, and became both the symbolic leader of American blacks and also a world figure.
   At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.
   His assasination killed him but it did not kill his dream.
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