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The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

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Martin Luther King Jr was a revolution that brought the Civil Rights Movement to national attention. Christened Michael Luther King Jr on January 15, 1929, King adopted the name Martin in homage to both his late father and the religious leader Martin Luther when he became a co-pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In his early life, King chased academia. After graduating from a segregated high school in Georgia at the age of fifteen, King earned his bachelor’s of arts degree at Morehouse college in 1948. King then went on to study theology at the Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he became the president of his predominantly white class, earned a fellowship, and graduated with his B.D degree in 1951. King then traveled to Boston University to serve out his residency for a doctoral degree in 1953 and later earned the degree in 1955. It was at this time that King decided to join the national debate around race relations in the United States.

King as a member of the executive committee of the NAACP aided in organizing the first nonviolent protest through a bus boycott. This boycott lasted for 382 days. Subsequently on December 21, 1956. the Supreme Court ruled that interstate segregated buses are unconstitutional. For the duration of the boycott, King was intimidated and harassed, nevertheless, he became a leader for the Civil Rights movement. In 1957, he became the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization that devoted itself to finding leadership for the civil rights movement. King became the most nationally infamous Civil Rights activist. From 1957 to 1968, King traveled throughout the country to offer his aid and guidance, against social injustice; he delivered speeches and penned five novels. King led the protest in Birmingham, Alabama which garnered attention nationally and globally, it was here that King called for a meeting of consciousness and gathered inspiration for his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, which called for registering African Americans to vote and the abolishment of the racist reading tests and poll taxes. King also participated in the march on Washington D.C. where he delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech. He worked with both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B Johnson.

King also campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson. The path to equality was not an easy one, King was arrested over twenty times and was assaulted on at least four occasions. For his anguish, King was granted five honorary degrees and received the title of Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963. His final honor came at the age of thirty-five: King became the youngest male to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. MLK donated his prize money to the movement. King continues to serve as an inspiration for many, from Malcolm X that coined “Ballots or bullets” to the inspiring Freedom Riders that fought to protect the rights of African American bus passengers.

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