Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr was among the most notable figure in the USA (United States of America). He was a supporter of Baptism, an ideology under Christianity. He was the civil rights movement champion in the USA from 1955 to 1968. He led up the cause of civil rights and became the most visible spokesperson for USA citizens in the Civil rights movement.
He was born Michael King Jr on January 15, 1929, in the city name Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States of America. Martin was born in the family of Martin Luther King Sr and Alberta Williams King. His father was also amongst the prominent personalities in the early phases of the civil rights movement. Alberta Williams King is her father, who took up the cause of the USA's civil rights movement and supported Baptism. An African American, famous church leader, and the son of early civil rights activist Martin Luther King Sr, Alberta Williams King, both advanced the civil rights for the people of the United States through the ideology of civil disobedience and nonviolence.
Martin Luther King participated in the civil rights movement and led marches for basic or civil rights such as the right to vote, labor rights, desegregation, etc. Inspired by the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi's nonviolence and civil disobedience, he led and targeted nonviolence against the Jim crow laws and other forms of discrimination prevalent in the United States of America. He led the Montgomery bus boycott movement in 1955 and later became the first president of SCLC, which means Southern Christian leadership conference. As a head of SCLC, he led various movements, some of which were successful and some were not, such as the Albany movement in Albany, Georgia, nonviolent protest of 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. He delivered one of the most famous speeches, "I Have a Dream."
During his March towards Washington in 1963 at Lincoln Memorial. His struggles led to the passing of some the acts such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair housing act of 1968, Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Early Life Of Martin Luther King:
- January 15, 1929, was one of the most important days in the history of the United States of America; on that day, Martin Luther King Jr was born. His parents were Michael King Sr and Alberta Williams King, King family, had their foundation in the rural area of f United States.
- His father was a sharecropper and belonged to the poor community of farmers, and married his mother Alberta in 1926 and then moved to Atlanta. His father was also a notable figure in the USA and one of the most famous and successful ministers in American history; he adopted the name Martin Luther King Sr. in honor of Martin Luther, a famous German Protestant religious leader.
- Later, he also follows in his father's footsteps and adopts Martin Luther's name for himself. King's parents tried to save his child from the horror of racism, but they didn't succeed. His father not only fought against the discriminatory practices of racial prejudice, but he tried to erase these practices from the mindset of the people; according to him, racism and separation are insults of god's will. His father is totally against class superiority which left a long-lasting impression on Martin Jr. After joining the public school at the age of five, he was baptized, but this did not create much impression on Martin Jr.
- But when he was 12 years old, his grandmother Esther's death event was disturbing for King, because King Jr was watching a parade against his parents' wishes, after listening to his grandmother's death news young King jumped from a second-story window of his family home, and attempt suicide.
- Martin Luther deeply engaged their family in the church and its worship. Still, King became uncomfortable with the emotional display of religious worshipping, and this discomfort continued for much of his adulthood. But later, he took Bible class and renewed his faith.
Education And Religious Growth Of Martin Jr:
- To get a degree in the curse of sociology, he took admitted to Morehouse College. Also, he actively participated in the liberal Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester city of Pennsylvania. After completing all his studies, he became valedictorian of his entire class in 1951.
- He was also elected as student body president, earning a fellowship for further study for graduation. During his college days, Martin Luther King was greatly influenced by the teachings of his college president Morehouse Benjamin E. Mays. Mays was a supporter of racial equality, and also he encouraged King to view Christianity as a medium of social change.
- By drinking beer and playing pool at the college, he was against his father's conservative views; he also had an affair with a white woman. After being accepted by several colleges for his doctoral study, he enrolled at Boston University.
- And during his doctorate, he met his love of life, Coretta Scott, an aspiring musician and singer in Boston; later, they married each other in 1953 and had four children Yolanda, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott, and Bernice. Martin Luther completed his Ph.D. at the young age of 25 and got his degree around 1955.
The Famous Montgomery Bus Boycott Movement:
- In 1955, a teenager named Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery city bus to a white man, which was considered a violation of local law. For this teenager, Colvin was arrested and sent to jail. Later another incident that provoked the Montgomery bus boycott was when 42-year-old Rosa Parks entrain the Cleveland Avenue bus to go home after a tiring day at work, and she sat in the first row of the bus, which was the "colored" section in the bus.
- As the bus started to travel on its route, all the seats reserved for the white section filled up, and then several more white passengers entered the bus. The bus driver noted that many African Americans had settled on the seats, and several white men were standing; he demanded from African Americans to give up their seats; some of them reluctantly gave up their seats, but Parks denied it.
- The bus driver asked Parks, again and again, to give up their seat, but Parks refused to give up, this was considered a violation of the Montgomery City Code, and for this, she was arrested. After the arrest of Park, E.D. Nixon, who headed the local NAACP, met with Martin King Jr and all other local civil rights leaders to plan and start Montgomery Bus Boycott. King was elected as the leader to lead the boycott because he was full of energy, young, energetic, well-trained with solid family connections, and had a well-pronounced professional standing.
- King has very strong credibility with the people of the Black community. And this speech, King put new energy among the African American people, which led to the bus boycott; the bus boycott movement involved 382 days of walking to work, violence, harassment, and intimidation for Montgomery's African American community.
- Mob attacked the leaders' homes, including King's and Nixon's homes. On the other side, African American community also started to take legal action against these discriminatory practices.
- After being defeated in several lower court cases and their rulings and suffering huge financial losses due to continuing participation in legal action, Montgomery lifted the law mandate to segregate public transportation.
Southern Christian Leadership Conference:
- After getting success, the African American civil rights leaders recognized that there should be a national organization to help, coordinate, and implement their combined efforts in movements. And the main function is to help conduct nonviolent protests and to promote civil rights reform throughout the country.
- King's involvement in the SCLC provided the base for operation in the South and the national platform. The SCLC felt that the first step was to provide a voice to African Americans, which could happen by providing voting rights. To register the voters, SCLC organized more than 20 mass meetings in key areas of the South in 1958.
- Also, King meets with the different religious and civil rights leaders, giving speeches all over the country on race-related issues in their removal. The ideologies of Mahatma Gandhi very much inspired King; he was an eternal supporter of Gandhi's nonviolence; he visited Gandhi's birthplace in 1959, and this trip affected him deeply, which would increase his commitment to America's civil rights struggle.
- One of his close associates, Bayard Rustin, was also inspired by Gandhi's teaching, influencing him to acquire the principles of nonviolence. Later Rustin became King's mentor and advisor and played an important role in the March of Washington.
Greensboro Sit-In Movement:
- Greensboro's Sit-In movement was started by a group of African American students in around February 1960.
- In the city stores of the USA, students from the African American community have to sit at racially isolated or segregated lunch counters. But sometimes, they sit on the colored sections.
- And if they asked to leave or sit in other sections, they ignored and continued to hold their seat; this created chaos and even sometimes led to verbal and physical abuse.
- And this racially segregated sitting movement gained momentum and started in several cities to disobey the sitting code. King also encouraged the students to follow nonviolent methods during their protests, without taking extreme paths and by avoiding violence.
- In the meantime, King started getting national exposure; by 1960, he returned to Atlanta to become co-pastor along with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. But their civil rights struggle/efforts continue.
- King and 75 other students were denied the services provided by the local department store; they requested lunch-counter service but were denied by local stores.
- After feeling humility, they refused to leave the counter area of a local store, and due to this, King and 36 others were arrested and detained. But Atlanta's Mayor understood the impact of King's arrest because it could negatively impact Atlanta's reputation, so the Mayor negotiated a truce, and charges were eventually dropped. But he is arrested for violating his probation on a traffic conviction.
- Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy made a phone call to Coretta Scott King and expressed his concern for King's harsh treatment for the traffic ticket soon after the political pressure was quickly set in motion. And the news of King's imprisonment entered the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy. Due to this, King was released soon.
Letter from the Birmingham Jail :
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr organized a protest in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, and the presence of entire families marked this demonstration. Still, the city police turned dogs and fire water hoses on the demonstrators. And due to this demonstration, King and many of his supporters were jailed, but this event drew nationwide attention.
However, King was criticized by the Black and white clergy for taking risks and endangering the lives of children who participated in the demonstration. And during his arrest, he wrote a famous letter in which he thoroughly explained his theory of nonviolence.
The Famous 'I Have a Dream' Speech:
After acquiring success in his last campaigns, most notably in the Birmingham campaign, King and his large numbers of supporters started making plans for a huge protest and demonstration on the outskirts of the nation's capital; this demonstration consisted of multiple organizations, and they all asked for peaceful change. And On August 28, 1963, the historic March took place in Washington, where more than 200,000 people participated in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial.
This March, King made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, which emphasized his belief that someday all men could be considered brothers of each other. In the speech, King mentioned that he dreams that his four 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. And this created a strong effect on public opinion; the civil rights movement produced positive changes in the nation; now, people started questioning racial segregation, second class treatment of African American citizens.
Martin Luther King Jr And Nobel Peace Prize:
At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize, and he was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. After getting Nobel Peace Prize, he announced that he would distribute the prize money to the further civil rights movement in the country and for the welfare Of his people. His campaigns for civil rights resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which authorized and provided power to the federal government to enforce the desegregation of public accommodations and services and remove discrimination in publicly owned facilities.
Martin Luther King Jr Assassination:
- But King's movements for civil rights were not going on as expected; he was becoming discouraged at the slow progress of civil rights in America and the increasing criticism of him and his nonviolent methods from other African American leaders.
- His years of demonstrations, protests, and confrontations started to wear on King. After success in the movements of his civil right, he had also grown tired of marches, going to jail, and living his life under the constant threat of death by his revivals who disobeyed the King and his methods. But still, he tried to get momentum for his movements and make plans for another March on Washington to revive his movements and address a wide range of issues.
- His last crusade considers the labor strike of spring of 1968, which the sanitation workers of Memphis started. And On April 3, he gave his final and what proved to be an eerily speech, "I've Been to the Mountaintop".
- The next day after giving a speech while standing on a balcony outside his room at the Lorraine Motel, Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by a sniper's bullet fired by James Earl Ray, the former convict, shooter, and rebel.
- He was arrested after 2 months of international search and quest. Martin Luther King Jr Assassination was marked by riots, protests, and demonstrations in many cities across the country. In 1969, James Earl Ray was found guilty of assassinating King, sentenced to 99 years in prison, and died in prison on April 23, 1998.
Martin Luther King Jr And His Legacy:
Martin Luther King and his lifelong struggle for the people's civil rights greatly impacted race relations among the people in the United States. After his death, he is regarded as one of the most notable figures in American history and was widely known as
African American leader of his era. The U.S. government has honored the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. by declaring a memorial day along with the naming of several institutions in the country after him. The name of the public buildings and a memorial on Independence Mall in Washington, D.C are built in honor of King.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration:
To mark his contributions toward civil rights, President Ronald Reagan declared a memorial day for Martin Luther King Jr. to honor his contributions to civil rights. As a result, the first Martin Luther King Jr Day was celebrated in 1986.
Despite being one of the honorable figures in American history, his life remains controversial as well. Around the 1970s, some of the FBI files, released under the Freedom of Information Act provision, revealed that he was under government surveillance and suggested involvement in adulterous relationships and having communist influences. Apart from some fake allegations, he was a visionary leader who deeply committed himself and his life to achieving social justice through the use of nonviolent means.