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Martin Luther

King Jr. Day


 












Martin Luther King Jr. - Civil Rights Advocate
By: Tippy & Alfred



Martin Luther King was a US civil rights activist and a
Baptist minister during the 1950's and 60's. He is known as
one of the greatest orators in United States history and is
famous for his "I Have a Dream" speech that took place on
the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the "March on
Washington," a famous non-violent protest over segregation
in the United States.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in
Atlanta, Georgia. He grew up during the times of segregation
in the United States. Martin Luther King Jr. was named
Michael Luther King Junior at birth. In 1935 his father
changed both their first names to Martin in honor of the
German Protestant minister Martin Luther. Martin Luther King
was born the middle child of three, his older sister, Willie
Christine, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel making up
the rest of the siblings.


Martin did not officially graduate from High School. Instead
he skipped both the 9th and 12th grades and went straight to
college. He graduated from Morehouse College with a Bachelor
of Arts (B.A.) degree in sociology. He then attended Crozer
Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, and graduated
with a Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) degree in 1951. Soon
after he began his doctoral work in systematic theology at
Boston University and received his Doctorate of Philosophy
in 1955. (There is now some controversy surrounding his
Doctorate, as during the 1980's, almost 20 years after his
death, he was accused of plagiarism and found guilty - yet
he retained his doctorate.)


He then became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in
Montgomery, Alabama in 1953, at the age of 24. He founded
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 and
served as its first president. The goal of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference was to organize the southern
black churches and their members to conduct non-violent
protest toward civil rights reform.


In 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested for not obeying the Jim Crow
laws when she wouldn't give up her seat to a white and go to
the back of a public bus. Martin Luther King then led the
Montgomery Bus Boycott at the insistence of E. D. Nixon, who
planned it. The boycott was a success and led to a United
States Supreme Court decision outlawing racial segregation
on all public transport.


In 1963 the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom" was
organized by King, representing SCLC and the so called "Big
Six" civil rights organizations. The other leaders and
organizations comprising the Big Six were: Roy Wilkins,
NAACP; Whitney Young, Jr., Urban League; A. Philip Randolph,
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; John Lewis, SNCC; and
James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).


The original idea behind the march was to show the desperate
conditions the southern blacks were subjected to due to
segregation and to lay their concerns publicly before
Washington D. C. and the country. But at the urging of the
President this point was down-played. President John F.
Kennedy convinced the organizers that the kind of march they
had in mind would ultimately hurt any civil rights
legislation.


But the march was still a success and many turned out for
the event and the famous speech "I Have a Dream" was given
from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by Martin Luther King
Jr. as planned. At the time it was the largest gathering of
protesters in Washington's history. The people spread from
the Lincoln Memorial steps around the reflecting pool and
into the National Mall.

Martin Luther King Junior made many great strides towards
granting the African American civil liberties and equal
rights. He will always be known as a great man and civil
right leader. He was involved the "Bloody Sunday" of 1965,
the marches of Chicago in 1966, the Opposition to the
Vietnam War in 1967 and the Poor People's Campaign in 1968.


Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968,
in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the
Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter in
1977. Martin Luther King Day (in celebration of his
birthday) was established as a national holiday in the
United States in 1986, and was posthumously awarded a
Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.




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By: Tippy & Alfred

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