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The Great Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. - Last Speech

Rev.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   1929 –1968

Rev.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was one of the most beloved and recognized leaders of all time.  He was a minister, author, and civil rights leader.  In America, he led the battle for racial equality through non-violent protest.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia.  He was the second of three children born to Reverend Martin Luther, Sr., and Alberta King.  As a young boy, King had a strong desire to learn.  An excellent student, he entered college at age 15.  In 1949, he graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta with a degree in sociology.

King attended graduate school at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania.  He made straight A’s and graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Divinity degree.  Later, he became an ordained minister.  In 1953, he married Corretta Scott.  They had four children, Yolonda, Martin III, Dexter and Bernine.

Rev.  King continued his studies and, in 1955, was awarded a Ph.D from Boston University.  He then became an assistant pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.  After moving to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1954, he became the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

In Montgomery, the city buses had certain seats for whites only.  By law, blacks were supposed to sit in the
rear of the bus.  When told to do so, blacks also were expected to give up their seats to whites.  In December 1955, a black woman named, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat to a white man and was jailed.  Within five days, Dr. King organized the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA).  He advised blacks not to ride the buses. For over a year, they boycotted the buses and picketed white businesses.

In 1956, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Alabama’s bus segregation laws were illegal.  This victory helped establish Dr. King as a national leader.  In 1957,
he help organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).  SCLC’s mission was to end segregation, using non-violent protest.  Dr. King led many demonstrations against all forms of discrimination and spoke out against the Vietnam War.

Though Dr. King preached against violence, many civil rights workers kidnapped, beaten, and killed.  Town officials used police dogs and high-powered water hoses against the peaceful marchers.  Dr. King was beaten and jailed over 30 times.  Several bombs wounded and killed innocent black men, women, and children. Some people in the nation were shocked by the horrible attacks against southern blacks.

In 1963, Dr. King, Asa Randolph, and other leaders organized the “March on Washington.”  Blacks and some whites from all over the world gathered.  The crowd soon swelled to over 250,000 people.  They sang “We
shall overcome” and listened to many speeches.  With the Lincoln Memorial behind him, Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  In 1964, he received the Nobel Peace Prize.  That same year, Dr. King watched as President Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Bill.

Dr. King’s last protest was on March 28, 1968.  He led more than 6,000 marchers in Memphis, Tennessee in support of the garbagemen’s strike.  On April 4, 1968, an assassin’s bullet took the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  King’s family mourned his passing, along with millions from all over the world.

Dr. King received over 300 honorary awards.  The NAACP gave him its highest honor, the Spingarn Medal.  In 1977, the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest tribute, was given to Dr. King.  January 15th honors the life and work of one of the Greatest civil rights leaders the world has ever known—Rev.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Excerpt from A Gift of Heritage – Black Civil Rights Leaders


This is only a summary of the Great Rev. Dr.  Martin Luther King Jr.