Faithful Heroes: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Was a pastor who became a leading figure in the Civil Rights movement.
He was born to Martin Luther King, Sr and Alberta Williams King on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. His and his father’s legal birth names were Michael King, but his father legally changed their names in 1934.
He grew up in the church his father pastored, and his mother often took him with her to various churches to sing.
Beginning at the age of 13, a spiritual battle went on in the young man and he denied the resurrection of Jesus. Later, he concluded the Bible held “many profound truths which one cannot escape”.
During his adolescent, he began public speaking and part of the debate team. He was often outraged by the way he was treated when he was forced to go to the back of the store or bus.
In 1948, he entered the seminary.
On June 18, 1853, he married Coretta Scott. The couple would have four children.
In 1954, he became the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. The following year, he graduated with his Ph.D. from Boston College.
In 1955, he was on the committee to look into the case when fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin, refused to give up her bus seat. Nine months later, on December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her own seat. This led to King leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which lasted for 385 days. During this time King was arrested, and he took his case to the U.S. District Court which ruled in Browder vs. Gayle that racial segregation would end on all Montgomery public buses.
In 1957, King met Billy Graham at a crusade in New York City and struck up a friendship. Other civil right leaders were inspired by Dr. Graham to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which King would lead until his death.
King organized and led marches for desegregation, labor rights, and other civil rights. He wrote a book,
On August 28, 1963, he led a march on Washington, D. C. Where he delivered a seventeen-minute speech known as “I Have a Dream”.
He continued to lead through the Selma Movement, Bloody Sunday of 1965, Chicago open house movement and the planning of the Poor People’s Campaign.
On April 3, 1968, he delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in Memphis, Tennessee.
The next evening, he was standing on his hotel balcony and asked his musician “Ben, make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord‘ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.”
He was fatally shot by James Earl Ray a moment later.
Days later Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
His legacy has remained as others have taken up his mantle.
On February 4, 1968, King stated “I’d like somebody to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody.” He lived trying to emulate the example of Jesus Christ. He lived in a non-violent way and believed in turning the other cheek, as Jesus taught.
Do you turn the other cheek?