Martin Luther King Jr. was a revolutionary in the civil rights movement, and his speeches have touched and moved generations to continue the fight for individuals’ basic rights. But before he was leading peaceful protests, he was a young man following in his father’s footsteps, becoming a Baptist preacher.
King was a rather remarkable child; he graduated high school at the age of fifteen and acquired his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College in 1948. He then continued to Crozer Theological Seminary where he was elected president of his predominantly white senior class. He moved to Boston where he earned his doctorate and met his wife, Coretta Scott.
King finally settled down in Montgomery, Alabama where he was pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. He was never shy about his involvement with civil rights. By 1954, he was a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and he took leadership of the first nonviolent demonstration, the bus boycott, in 1957. This boycott lasted over a year and was successful in overturning the segregation laws. During those 382 days, his house was bombed, he was arrested, and he was subjected to personal abuse, yet he emerged with more compassion and fervor for his cause.
It was after this crucial moment when King caught the attention of the entire world. After leading a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama,
King wrote “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which became the manifesto of the Civil Rights movement. He composed five books, spoke over 2,500 times, and traveled countless miles to combat injustices with compassion and empathy. In August of 1963, King stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial and delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech in front of 250,000 people, inspiring love, acceptance, and passion in his audience. He continued his fight for equality, earning the Nobel Peace Prize at age thirty-four and gaining world-wide recognition.
Martin Luther King, Jr. has inspired people across the nation to fight injustice with grace, empathy, and unyielding passion. He dedicated his life to the helping the United States, and the world, to end racial inequality and put forth a nation where men and women “are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”