Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin.
His grandfather began the family's long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor.
Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had been graduated.
After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951. With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955 In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.
In 1954, Martin Luther King accepted the pastorale of the Dexter Avenue
Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by
this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the
nation. He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of
the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the
United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation
speech in honor of the laureate. The boycott lasted 382 days. On December 21,
1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional
the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as
equals. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he
was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro
leader of the first rank.
On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room
in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with
striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.