REMEMBERING MARTIN LUTHER KING JUNIOR
Written by Tony Williams on January 18, 2021
Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King was born on this date in 1929.
- The most inspirational and influential leader of the 1960s Civil Rights movement.
- He earned his doctorate in theology from Boston University in 1955.
- First came to prominence as a leader of the 1955 Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott fueled by Rosa Parks‘ refusal to give up her seat to a white man. It led to a federal court ruling ending segregation on public buses.
- An organizer of 1963’s March on Washington which demanded an end to segregation; there, he delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.
- The oft-repeated speech ran for 17 minutes.
- He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
- In 1965, he organized a series of marches from Selma, Alabama to the state capital, Montgomery, demanding voting rights for African-Americans.
- The “Bloody Sunday” attack by police on protesters was the tipping point for President Johnson to submit a comprehensive Civil Rights Bill.
- King also served as a leader of the anti-Vietnam War movement.
- Came to Memphis in April 1968 to support striking sanitation workers; on April 4th, he was shot dead on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel by James Earl Ray.
- He and his namesake father were both born Michael King, but changed their names in 1934 to honor the Protestant reform leader.
- President Reagan signed the bill creating a national Martin Luther King holiday in 1983.
- The holiday was first celebrated in all 50 states in 2000.