MLK facts to remember
Published: Monday, January 20, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 20, 2014 22:01
Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential people of the 20th Century. We are all taught the basics in school that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and Martin Luther King Jr. was the champion of civil rights, but King is much more than just a national hero. He is celebrated the same way Americans celebrate our founding fathers–by honoring his birthday with a national holiday. While the grade school ingrained facts about King may have by now faded away here are 10 key facts and moments that define his legacy.
January 15, 1928- Michael King is born in Atlanta, Ga. at noon to Reverend Michael King and Alberta Williams King.
1934- Michael King Sr. , a Baptist pastor, attends the Fifth Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin, Germany and is inspired to change both his and his son’s names to Martin Luther in honor of the leader of the Protestant Reformation.
1944- Martin Luther King Jr. skips the ninth and 12th grades and is accepted to Morehouse College. King never formally graduated from high school. King graduates with a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College in sociology and enrolls in the Crozer Theological Seminary, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in divinity. King would later go to Boston University to get his Ph.D. in religious studies.
1955- King kicks off the civil rights movement with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Inspired by Rosa Parks’ actions and arrest on a Montgomery bus thousands of African–Americans walk to school and work instead of riding the buses. In a 1965 “Playboy” interview, King said the event had a higher success rate than he had anticipated. “We had in mind a one–day boycott and we were banking on 60 percent success. But the boycott saw instantaneous 99 percent success. We were so pleasantly surprised and impressed that we continued and for the next 381 days the boycott of Montgomery’s buses by negroes was 99.9 percent successful,” King said.
1959- King travels to India. The philosophies and non–violent practices of Mahatma Gandhi were the foundation of King’s civil rights movement and he had always wanted to travel there. During his visit, King obtains a deeper understanding of non-violence.
1960- King orchestrates and participates in a sit–in at a counter in Greensboro, N.C. King is arrested for the first time during this peaceful sit in and is sentenced to four months in jail. King does not serve his entire sentence however, because John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy intervene on his behalf.
Aug. 28, 1963- King makes his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” at the Lincoln Memorial in front of a crowd of 250,000 participants in the March on Washington.
Jan. 3, 1964- King is TIME Magazine’s Man of the Year. In this same year King becomes the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize at age 35.
1966- King moves into a Chicago slum to raise awareness for the struggles of the poor. As well as being a civil rights activist, King campaigned tirelessly for programs for of the poor in America to improve. In the 1965 interview with “Playboy,” King was emphatic that poverty is a multi-racial issue. “We must develop a federal program of public works, retaining jobs for all–so that none, white or black, will have cause to feel threatened. At the present time, thousands of jobs a week are disappearing in the wake of automation and other production efficiency techniques. Black and white we will all be harmed unless something great and imaginative is done.”
April 4, 1968- King is assassinated on the balcony of his Memphis hotel room, and 130 cities across America burst into riots following the news about with 20,000 arrests made. On April 9th, King’s funeral is a national event.