Martin Luther King Jr., originally Michael King Jr., was a Baptist preacher and social activist who led the civil rights movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. Born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, King died on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.
Using non-violence and civil disobedience, King achieved civil rights for people of color in the United States. He spearheaded focused, peaceful opposition against Jim Crow laws and other kinds of discrimination in the US, inspired by his Christian convictions and Mahatma Gandhi’s advocacy for non-violence.
King took part in and organized protests for many civil rights, including the right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and others. Later, he was elected the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), saw King as a radical and targeted him for the COINTELPRO (short for Counterintelligence Program) program. Agents of the FBI spied on him, covertly videotaped him, and looked into his potential communist connections. King believed an anonymous letter from the FBI sent to him in 1964 was an effort to persuade him to end his life.
King received the Nobel Peace Prize on October 14, 1964, in recognition of his peaceful struggle against racial injustice. He assisted in the planning of two of the three Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965.
In his final years of life, he broadened his focus to encompass opposition to the Vietnam War, capitalism, and poverty. When King was killed on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee, he was preparing the Poor People’s Campaign for Washington, D.C.
After his passing, there was widespread sadness throughout the country, as well as rage that sparked riots in several American cities.
King was born and raised in a prosperous middle-class household immersed in the history of Southern black ministry; both his father and maternal grandfather were Baptist preachers. However, King still encountered the biases that were prevalent at the time in the South, despite his comfortable background.
King enrolled at Morehouse College in Atlanta at the age of 15 as part of a unique wartime program designed to increase enrollment by accepting deserving high school students like King. However, King spent the summer in Connecticut working on a tobacco farm before starting college; it was his first prolonged absence from home and his first significant exposure to racial relations outside of the divided South.
King preferred studying law and medicine at Morehouse, but in his final year, he followed his father’s advice and went into the ministry.
King spent the following three years studying at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he became familiar with both modern Protestant theologians’ ideas and Mohandas Gandhi’s nonviolent philosophy. In 1951, he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity.
Marriage and Family
He asked his Atlantan acquaintance, Mary Powell, a New England Conservatory of Music student who attended Boston University, whether she knew any good Southern women while she was a student there.
Coretta Scott, a classmate of Powell’s, was asked whether she would be interested in seeing a Southern acquaintance who was studying religion. Scott ultimately consented to let Martin call her despite not being interested in dating preachers and based on Powell’s description and recommendation.
On June 18, 1953, King married Coretta Scott in the front yard of her parents’ home in her Alabama village of Heiberger. Four children were born to them:
Yolanda King (1955–2007), Martin Luther King III (1957–1959), Dexter Scott (1961–1963), and Bernice (1963–1963) King restricted Coretta’s involvement in the civil rights movement during their marriage, intending for her to remain a homemaker and mother.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s Activism, Historical Significance, and Organizational Leadership
The American civil rights movement was led by Martin Luther King Jr., who made a lasting impact on the history of the country. His action was characterized by peaceful resistance, guided by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, and aimed at eradicating institutionalized racial segregation and prejudice. His stirring lectures struck a chord throughout the globe and inspired a generation to demand justice and equality.
King’s vital participation in the passing of important civil rights laws, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, is what gives him historical relevance. In addition to his oratory skills, King was a skilled organizer who established the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to inspire communities to take action.
He established a powerful example for future generations in the fight for justice and equality by emphasizing solidarity, nonviolent protest, and the strength of group action. The memory of Martin Luther King Jr. continues to serve as a global symbol of hope and a driving force for social change.
1) Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955
Jim Crow laws, which were municipal ordinances in the Southern United States that enforced racial segregation, were broken by Claudette Colvin, a fifteen-year-old black student in Montgomery, when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in March 1955.
The event involved a juvenile, and King served on the committee from the Birmingham African-American community that looked into it. E. D. Nixon and Clifford Durr chose to wait for a better case to pursue.
A similar event happened nine months later, on December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks was detained for refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus. The two instances sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, which King and Nixon encouraged and organized.
King, who was in his twenties, had recently started in his clerical position. Simply because he was relatively new to community leadership and it made it easier for him to speak out, the other ministers invited him to take on a leadership position. In spite of his hesitation, King resolved to accept the part if no one else did.
King’s home was attacked during the 385-day boycott because the atmosphere was so hostile. During this campaign, King was detained after being pulled over for doing 30 mph in a 25 mph zone. This arrest quickly caught the attention of the national media and significantly raised King’s profile.
When the United States District Court ruled in the case of Browder v. Gayle that forbade racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses, the debate was put to rest. Black people started using the buses again, and they had complete legal permission to use the front seats.
King’s participation in the bus boycott made him a household name and the most well-known spokesperson for the civil rights movement.
2) Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was established by King, Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, Joseph Lowery, and other civil rights leaders in 1957. The organization was founded in order to use the moral weight and mobilizing capacity of black churches to lead peaceful demonstrations in support of civil rights legislation.
The organization was influenced by the crusades of King’s friend and evangelist Billy Graham as well as the national organizing of the organization In Friendship, which was started by Stanley Levison and Ella Baker. King oversaw the SCLC until his passing.
3) The Gandhi Society
In Abernathy et al. v. Sullivan, a libel lawsuit involving the newspaper ad “Heed Their Rising Voices,” Harry Wachtel and King’s legal counsel, Clarence B. Jones, defended four SCLC preachers. To pay for the costs of the lawsuit and provide a more efficient way to raise money for the nonviolent civil rights movement, Wachtel established a tax-exempt fund. The “Gandhi Society for Human Rights” was the name of this group.
King served as the organization’s honorary president. He didn’t like how quickly President Kennedy was addressing the issue of segregation. King and the Gandhi Society published a paper in 1962 urging the President to follow Lincoln’s example and sign an executive order as a sort of second emancipation proclamation to advance racial rights. Kennedy did not carry out the directive.
4) Survived Knife Attack, 1958
King barely missed the murder on September 20, 1958, while signing copies of his book “Stride Toward Freedom” in Blumstein’s department store in Harlem. King was stabbed in the chest with a letter opener by Izola Curry, a mentally ill black woman who believed that King was working with communists to plot her assassination. The wound came dangerously close to impinging on the aorta.
Al Howard and Philip Romano, two police officers, administered first aid to King. Aubre de Lambert Maynard, Emil Naclerio, and John W. V. Cordice performed King’s emergency surgery, and he spent many weeks in the hospital. Curry was eventually determined to be mentally incapable of standing trial.
5) Atlanta Sit-ins, Prison Sentence, and the 1960 Elections
Since March 1960, the Atlanta Student Movement has been working to desegregate the city’s establishments and public areas by planning Atlanta sit-ins. King was encouraged to take part in a big sit-in in October by a movement in August. The sit-in was designed to emphasize how the 1960 presidential election campaign overlooked civil rights. October 19 saw a concerted day of action.
King was one of several people detained that day after taking part in a sit-in at a restaurant inside Rich’s, the biggest department store in Atlanta. Except for King, everyone was freed by the authorities during the following days. Judge J. Oscar Mitchell sentenced King to four months of hard labor on October 25 in accordance with his probationary plea agreement. King was hauled from his county prison cell the following morning before daybreak and sent to Georgia State Prison.
After the sit-ins on October 19 and the subsequent turmoil, Atlanta’s desegregation talks were given a 30-day respite. However, the talks fell through, and for several months, boycotts and sit-ins continued in full force. The city’s lunch counters will be desegregated in the autumn of 1961. In connection with the court-mandated integration of schools, a delegation of black elders led by King informed student leaders on March 7, 1961.
The compromise angered a lot of the youngsters. The crowd at a sizable gathering held on March 10 at Warren Memorial Methodist Church was antagonistic and irate with the elders and the compromise. After that, King delivered an emotional address, encouraging listeners to fight against the “cancerous disease of disunity” and attempting to diffuse the situation.
6) Albany Movement, 1961
In November 1961, a desegregation group known as the Albany Movement was established in Albany, Georgia. King and the SCLC got involved in the matter in December. A large-scale, peaceful attack on every facet of racial segregation in the city was launched by the campaign, which gained national prominence.
The movement started to decline after nearly a year of intense campaigning with few noticeable outcomes. King asked for an end to all protests and a “Day of Penance” to encourage nonviolence and uphold moral superiority.
After Albany, King tried to steer clear of pre-existing conditions by selecting SCLC engagements where he could exert influence over the scene.
7) Birmingham Campaign, 1963
The SCLC launched a campaign in Birmingham, Alabama, against racial segregation and economic inequality in April 1963. Wyatt Tee Walker helped create some of the peaceful but purposefully provocative strategies that were employed in the campaign. In Birmingham, black people who were organizing with the SCLC seized public venues with marches and sit-ins, openly flouting the law because they believed it to be unfair.
The Birmingham Police Department, under the direction of Eugene “Bull” Connor, used high-pressure water jets and police dogs against protestors, including children, during the demonstrations. Early in the campaign, King was detained and imprisoned—his 13th arrest overall.
8) March on Washington, 1963
King, who represented the SCLC, was one of the “Big Six” civil rights leaders who played a crucial role in planning the August 28, 1963, March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The Big Six also included James L. Farmer Jr. of the Congress of Racial Equality, Whitney Young of the National Urban League, A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Roy Wilkins of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and John Lewis of SNCC.
The march was initially intended to illustrate the dire situation of black people in the southern United States and to provide a chance for organizers to voice their worries and grievances in front of the national capital’s seat of power.
Abolition of racial segregation in public schools, significant civil rights legislation, such as a law forbidding racial discrimination in employment, protection of civil rights workers from police abuse, a $2 minimum wage for all workers (equivalent to $19 in 2022), and self-government for Washington, D.C., which was previously governed by a congressional committee, were among the demands made during the march.
The march was a spectacular success despite the conflict. The ceremony was attended by about a quarter of a million individuals of various ethnic backgrounds who crowded the National Mall, the reflecting pool, and the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was the biggest protest demonstration in Washington, D.C., history at the time.
9) “I Have a Dream” Speech
The 17-minute speech King gave became known as “I Have a Dream” afterward. The speech’s most famous line is when he deviates from the original text, probably at Mahalia Jackson’s urging after she yelled, “Tell them about the dream!” from behind him.
The original typewritten copy of the speech, together with King’s handwritten annotations, was found in the possession of George Raveling, the University of Iowa’s first African-American basketball coach, in 1984. After King’s address in 1963, 26-year-old Raveling, who was seated close to the platform, requested King on the spur of the moment for a copy of the speech, and he gave it to him.
10) Opposition to the Vietnam War
King had opposed American involvement in the Vietnam War for a long time, but he first refrained from bringing up the subject in speeches in order to prevent any potential interference with civil rights objectives that criticism of President Johnson’s actions would have caused.
King opposed the Vietnam War because it required resources and funds that could have gone toward domestic social welfare. The American Congress was simultaneously increasing its military spending and decreasing its funding for anti-poverty initiatives.
Bevel persuaded King to get even more involved in the anti-war movement after seeing an opportunity to bring civil rights activists and anti-war activists together. King was not a fan of the hippie culture that emerged from the anti-war movement, despite his growing vocal opposition to the Vietnam War.
11) Poor People’s Campaign, 1968
To address concerns of economic fairness, King and the SCLC formed the “Poor People’s Campaign” in 1968. King toured the nation to gather “a multiracial army of the poor” that would march on Washington and participate in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol until Congress passed an “economic bill of rights” for American citizens who were struggling to make ends meet.
12) Global Policy
King signed the accord calling for the organization of a conference to establish a global constitution. As a consequence, a World Constituent Assembly met in 1968 for the first time in human history to develop and approve the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
13) King, Martin Luther, Jr.’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail
When police used dogs and fire hoses on the protesters in Birmingham, Alabama, in the spring of 1963, King’s campaign to remove segregation at lunch counters and hiring practices gained widespread attention. Many of King’s followers, including hundreds of youngsters, were also imprisoned.
However, not all of Birmingham’s black clergy supported him, and some of the white clergy who had released a statement asking African Americans not to support the demonstrations were vehemently opposed. King penned a very eloquent letter outlining his nonviolent philosophies from the Birmingham prison.
Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
The legacy demonstrates how different generations of scholars have interpreted Martin Luther King Jr.’s life throughout time. Scholars have contested the idea that King’s charismatic leadership was exclusively responsible for the Southern Black protest movements while noting the crucial roles local Black leaders like Rosa Parks and Fred Shuttlesworth played in the 1950s and 1960s African American protest movements.
Instead, they focus on King’s unique leadership style, citing his motivational speeches that turned neighborhood demonstrations into noteworthy occasions like the Montgomery bus boycott.
Studies claim that King’s ability to link black ambitions with broadly held democratic and Christian principles was his greatest accomplishment. King won the public’s support for civil rights reform by enlisting grassroots leaders and inspiring faith in the justice of their cause.
His approach of peaceful protest and intergroup collaboration was successful in ending racial segregation in the South, but it ran into problems when he later addressed larger national concerns of racial and economic inequality.
1) South Africa
The Black Consciousness struggle and the civil rights struggle in South Africa were both influenced by King’s legacy. Albert Lutuli, a South African statesman who battled for racial justice in his nation throughout apartheid and subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize, recognized King’s work and drew inspiration from it.
2) United Kingdom
John Hume, an Irish politician and campaigner, was influenced by King. King was hailed as “one of my great heroes of the century” by Hume, the former head of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, whose legacy was vital to the Good Friday Agreement signing and the civil rights struggle in Northern Ireland.
3) United States
In the annals of American liberalism and American progressivism, King has emerged as a national hero. His primary contribution to American civil rights development was to ensure it.
The Civil Rights Act of 1968 was approved by Congress just a few days after King was killed. The Fair Housing Act, or Title VIII of the Act, outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or national origin in housing and housing-related transactions (later expanded to include sex, family status, and disability).
Coretta Scott King, King’s wife, continued in her husband’s footsteps and participated in social justice and civil rights issues up until her passing in 2006. She founded the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center in Atlanta, Georgia, the same year he was killed. The King Center is devoted to upholding his memory and his work promoting nonviolent conflict resolution and tolerance all throughout the world.
4) Martin Luther King Jr. Day
States and communities like St. Louis, Missouri, started establishing yearly holidays to commemorate King beginning in 1971. President Ronald Reagan signed a law establishing a federal holiday in King’s honor on November 2, 1983.
It was initially celebrated on January 20, 1986, and is known as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Following a 1992 proclamation by President George H. W. Bush, the holiday is commemorated annually on the third Monday in January, close to King’s birthday.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day was first formally recognized on January 17, 2000, across the 50 states of the United States. Utah (2000), New Hampshire (1999), and Arizona (1992) were the three latest states to declare a state holiday. The holiday was previously observed at the same time in Utah under the name Human Rights Day.
King traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, on March 29, 1968, to assist the AFSCME Local 1733-represented black sanitary public works workers. Since March 12, the workers have been demanding better pay and care.
On April 3, at Mason Temple, the global headquarters of the Church of God in Christ, King spoke at a rally and gave his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech.
At Memphis’ Lorraine Motel, which is owned by Walter Bailey, King had a reservation for Room 306. King and his entourage frequented Room 306 so frequently that it became known as the “King-Abernathy Suite,” according to Ralph Abernathy, a witness to the murder who testified before the US House Select Committee on Assassinations.
When King was about to be killed, he reportedly said to musician Ben Branch, who was due to play that evening at an event King was attending, “Ben, make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord’ in the meeting tonight,” according to witness Jesse Jackson. Play it really tastefully.
King was standing on the second-floor balcony of the hotel when James Earl Ray opened fire and killed him at 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968. After striking his right face and breaking his jaw, the bullet passed through his spinal cord before landing in his shoulder.
When King was found on the floor, Abernathy hurried to the balcony after hearing the shooting from inside the hotel room. Jackson first claimed that he held King’s head while he lay on the balcony after the shooting, but several members of King’s entourage contradicted this claim. Jackson then amended his story to indicate that he had “reached out” to King.
At 7:05 p.m., King passed away at St. Joseph’s Hospital following urgent chest surgery. Taylor Branch, a biographer, claimed that while King was just 39 years old, his autopsy found that he “had the heart of a 60-year-old,” which Branch ascribed to the strain of participating in the civil rights struggle for 13 years.
King’s remains were moved to a tomb at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in 1977 after being first buried in South View Cemetery in South Atlanta.
A countrywide wave of racial riots broke out in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, Louisville, Kansas City, and several other places as a result of the killing. When news of King’s passing reached presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, he was on his way to Indianapolis for a rally. He informed the crowd of supporters about the tragedy and urged them to uphold King’s philosophy of nonviolence in a brief, spontaneous address.
He gave a prepared statement the next day in Cleveland. While Stokely Carmichael, a more militant civil rights activist, called for a stronger reaction, James Farmer Jr. and other civil rights leaders advocated for nonviolent action. Memphis soon reached a settlement with the strikers that benefited the sanitation employees.
Soon after the killing on April 4, the plan to establish a shantytown in Washington, D.C., was put into action. Following his passing, King’s proposal attracted less criticism, and the SCLC received an extraordinary amount of funds to carry it out.
On May 2, the campaign formally got underway in Memphis at the hotel where King was killed. On the National Mall, thousands of protesters descended and set up camp in what they named “Resurrection City” for six weeks.
King’s Ideas, Influences, and Political Stances
Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance ethos had a significant impact on Martin Luther King Jr. and helped to shape his dedication to civil rights advocacy. He promoted racial equality while referencing the compassion and justice found in Christianity. Beyond racial equality, King’s vision included support for economic justice and opposition to the Vietnam War.
His stirring oratory, typified by the “I Have a Dream” speech, reverberated throughout the globe and inspired a change-driven movement. King’s ideals prioritized cooperation and nonviolent protest, producing a legacy that crosses national boundaries. He has served as an inspiration for generations to continue the fight for equality, making him a symbol of hope and advancement.
As a Christian pastor, King was primarily influenced by Jesus Christ and the Christian gospels, which he frequently used in his sermons, religious gatherings, and public speeches. King’s religion was firmly rooted in Jesus’ proclamation to love God above all else, love your neighbor as yourself, and love your enemy by praying for them and blessing them.
King denied biblical literalism, as seen by his private writings. He called the Bible “mythological,” questioned if Jesus was indeed born of a virgin, contended that he might not have experienced a physical resurrection, and dismissed the veracity of the Jonah and the whale legend.
2) The Measure of a Man
King’s sermons “What is Man?” and “The Dimensions of a Complete Life” were collected into a little book called The Measure of a Man in 1959. The sermons defended the idea that God’s love is necessary for man and denounced the racial inequalities of Western culture.
King’s first regular non-violent counselor was seasoned civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. The white activists Harris Wofford and Glenn Smiley also gave King advice.
Wofford and Rustin both studied Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas, while Rustin and Smiley hailed from the Christian nonviolent tradition. With the Journey of Reconciliation program in the 1940s, Rustin had used nonviolence, and Wofford had been evangelizing Gandhism to black Southerners since the early 1950s.
During his early years of action in the early 1950s, King used the word “nonviolence” very seldom and had little prior knowledge of Gandhi. King at first believed in and used self-defense, even getting firearms for his home to protect it from potential intruders.
King was led by pacifists who presented him with nonviolent resistance as an option, suggesting that this would be a more effective strategy for achieving his civil rights objectives than using self-defense. King later made the commitment to lay down his weapons.
4) Criticism within the Movement
During his involvement in the civil rights struggle, King received criticism from other black leaders. This included pushback from more radical intellectuals like Malcolm X, a member of the Nation of Islam. Ella Baker, the founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, saw King as a captivating media personality who lost touch with the movement’s grassroots when he grew close to powerful people like Nelson Rockefeller.
Stokely Carmichael, a Baker disciple who later joined the black separatist movement, disagreed with King’s call for racial harmony because he saw it as an affront to the distinctive culture of the African-American people. Additionally, he disagreed with King’s nonviolent strategy’s reliance on stirring up American conscience since he believed that the country had any.
5) Activism and Involvement with Native Americans
King actively supported the rights of Native Americans. Native Americans participated actively in King’s civil rights movement as well as being ardent supporters of it. In actuality, the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund served as a model for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). Particularly helpful in King’s activities, notably the Poor People’s Campaign in 1968, was the National Indian Youth Council (NIYC).
King argued that reparations for past wrongs should be given to black Americans as well as other underprivileged Americans. In an interview with Playboy done in 1965, he said that offering black Americans simple equality would not be sufficient to overcome the economic gap between them and whites.
King stated that he did not seek complete compensation for earnings lost to slavery, which he considered to be unattainable, but instead advocated that the government fund a compensating program for all disadvantaged groups totaling $50 billion over 10 years.
After the first season of the science fiction television program Star Trek in 1967, actress Nichelle Nichols intended to depart in order to pursue a career in musical theater. After speaking with King, a show fan, she had a change of heart.
King argued that her persona foretold a day when there would be more racial peace and collaboration. “You are our image of where we’re going; you’re 300 years from now, which means that’s where we are and it’s happening right now,” King said Nichols. Keep up the good work; you are an inspiration to us.
Star Trek was one of the only programs that [King] and his wife Coretta would permit their young children to watch, according to Nichols’ account. And I informed him I was leaving the show after thanking him. The entire grin vanished from his face. ‘Don’t you realize, for the first time, we’re being viewed as we ought to be seen,’ he retorted. You do not play a black character. You play an equal part. Gene Roddenberry, who created the series, was affected when he learned of King’s support.
State Surveillance and Coercion
During the civil rights period, Martin Luther King Jr. was the target of widespread governmental snooping and pressure. Under J. Edgar Hoover’s directives, the FBI carried out constant monitoring to discredit King’s activity. In an effort to undermine him, they wiretapped his phones, snuck into his inner circle, and compiled a dossier.
This clandestine effort attempted to damage King’s reputation and take advantage of his weaknesses. King stayed steadfast in his quest for justice despite the constant pressure, demonstrating the immense courage and unflinching dedication that marked his legacy in the face of institutionalized injustice and state-sponsored intimidation.
1) FBI Surveillance and Wiretapping
J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI, personally authorized King’s surveillance with the goal of undermining his influence as a civil rights leader. “From December 1963 until his death in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was the target of an intensive campaign by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ‘neutralize’ him as an effective civil rights leader,” the Church Committee, a 1975 inquiry by the U.S. Congress, concluded.
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy gave the FBI permission to begin monitoring King’s phone lines in the fall of 1963, ostensibly because of his relationship with Stanley Levison. Levison and King both had their home and work phone lines wiretapped by the Bureau, which also bugged King’s hotel rooms while he was traveling the nation.
2) NSA Monitoring of King’s Communications
The National Security Agency secretly watched King and other prominent Americans who opposed the American war in Vietnam in their conversations as part of the “Minaret” program. The NSA found Minaret to be “disreputable, if not outright illegal,” after reviewing it.
3) CIA Surveillance
CIA documents that were declassified in 2017 showed that the organization was looking into possible connections between King and Communism after a November 4, 1964, Washington Post article claimed that he had been invited to the Soviet Union and that Ralph Abernathy, King’s spokesperson, had declined to comment on the invitation’s source. The CIA’s HTLINGUAL program snooped on King’s and other civil rights advocates’ mail.
4) Allegations of Adultery
The FBI started seeking to undermine King by leaking information about his personal life after determining that King was dangerous due to communist infiltration. King was the target of FBI monitoring, some of which has since been made public, in an effort to prove that he also had a lot of extramarital relationships. King was reportedly described as a “hypocritical preacher” by Lyndon B. Johnson.
Howell Raines, a civil rights author, gave Bearing the Cross a favorable review soon after its publication but felt that Garrow was “amassing facts rather than analyzing them” and that his claims concerning King’s sexual life were “sensational.”
Police Observation During the Assassination
James Earl Ray was sleeping in a boarding house across from the Lorraine Motel, which was near a fire station. To keep King under observation, police officers were posted inside the fire station. When King was shot, agents were observing him.
Officers hurried to the hotel as soon as the gunfire ended, leaving the station. The first person to treat King was an undercover police officer named Marrell McCullough. The FBI may have been engaged in the killing due to the tension between King and the bureau, the lack of an all-points bulletin to identify the murderer, and the presence of police in the area.
Awards and Recognition
At least fifty honorary degrees from colleges and institutions have been given to King. King received the Nobel Peace Prize on October 14, 1964, making him the youngest recipient ever. He received the prize for organizing peaceful protests against racial injustice in the United States.
The American Jewish Committee honored him with the American Liberties Medal in 1965 for his “exceptional advancement of the principles of human liberty. “Freedom is one thing”, King announced during his acceptance speech. You must possess everything to be free.
He received the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP in 1957. For his book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, which was published two years later, he received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.
King received the Margaret Sanger Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in 1966 for “his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity.”
King was chosen as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1966 as well. He traveled to the UK for a whole day in November 1967 to receive an honorary doctorate in civil law from Newcastle University, making him the first African American to earn such recognition from the university.
In addition to receiving three Grammy Award nominations, King received a posthumous win for “Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam” in 1971 for Best Spoken Word Recording. King received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously from President Jimmy Carter in 1977.
a) Five-Dollar Bill
The redesign of the $5, $10, and $20 notes will all take place before 2020, according to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew’s announcement made on April 20, 2016.
While Lincoln would continue to appear on the $5 bill’s front, according to Lew, the reverse would be altered to feature a variety of historical occurrences that had taken place at the Lincoln Memorial. Images from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Marian Anderson’s 1939 performance are among the proposed decorations.
There are numerous memorial locations, structures, and sculptures dedicated to him, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C.; the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in downtown San Jose, California; and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in West Potomac Park next to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. In addition, there are numerous memorials dedicated to him both in the United States and abroad.
The success of King’s campaign in abolishing the legal segregation of African Americans in the South and other regions of the United States was largely due to his leadership. As the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which supported nonviolent strategies like the significant march on Washington in 1963 to advance racial rights, King attained national recognition. In 1964, he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
King had advocated for the rights of people throughout his career. Despite having barely avoided the murder on September 20, 1958, he had continued his struggle. He faced harsh circumstances throughout and was eventually assassinated.
What was King’s First Name?
King was named Michael King Jr. when he was born on January 15, 1929. But in 1934, his father, a minister at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, went to Germany and met Martin Luther, a key figure in the Protestant Reformation, who inspired him. King Sr. changed his name as well as his son’s, who is now five years old.
At What Age Did King Enroll in College?
Before entering Morehouse College in 1944, at the Alma School of his father and maternal grandparents, King skipped grades nine and twelve due to his exceptional academic abilities.
Despite being the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Baptist preachers, King did not wish to follow in his family’s footsteps until Morehouse president Benjamin E. Mays, a prominent theologian, urged him to do so. King was ordained before obtaining a sociology degree from college.
In Which Subject Did King Earn His Ph.D.?
King graduated with a master’s in divinity from the Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania before enrolling in Boston University’s doctoral program, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1955 in systematic theology. His dissertation was titled “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”
Was King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech His First at the Lincoln Memorial?
King was one of the civil rights leaders who spoke on May 17, 1957, during the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, six years before delivering his famous speech at the March on Washington. King discussed voting rights in his first national talk, which was made in front of a throng that was believed to be between 15,000 and 30,000 people.
Strong plaudits for his address, in which he pleaded with America to “give us the ballot,” placed him at the front of the civil rights leadership.