The Life And Legacy Of Martin Luther King Jr

The tall walls of freedom were erected! Who erected them? A fight was put up in the cold days of segregation, the upsurge of racism, racial violence, and inequality in the enjoyment of rights. Who put up the fight?

In the time when poverty was regarded as a birthright of a particular people when the enjoyment of civil rights was about your skin colour when the school you attended was about your black or white skin, a man stood firmly and steadfastly at the centre of a fight for freedom. A fight for freedom that would later posthumously vindicate his stance and conviction.

Who is this brave man who ‘threw his life away in the fight for the liberation of the black community and society? He is the King of all time, Martin Luther King Jr. How did he become the voice of the people? How did he live? Let’s find out in this video!

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Who was Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King Jr. was an African-American activist and Baptist Minister. He was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He was born Michael King Jr. to Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. He was born in a home of the Christian faith. He and his siblings would receive bible lessons from their father and Bible stories from their maternal grandmother, Jennie Celeste Parks, who King Jr came to adore so much.

He attended the only high school in the city that enrolled students of African-American descent. Schools were segregated, and white students attended separate schools, which black students could not attend. King Jr. did well in high school and later qualified into Morehouse College after passing an entrance exam at 15.

He graduated from college at the age of 19 with a BA in Sociology. His father had attended the same college earlier. He then enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary, Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a B.Div. In 1955, King Jr graduated from Boston University with a PhD in Systemic Theology.

He became a pastor at age 25 at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church after he had served as an assistant minister in the past at Twelfth Baptist Church in Boston. While in Boston University, King Jr married Coretta Scott in 1953.

As an activist and minister, King Jr was involved in so many activist movements, most of which he led. He mainly served in activist roles that sought to liberate the black community from the bondage of racism and inequality. He was the leader of the American Civil Rights Movement that championed ending racial discrimination and segregation and the likes in America.

In 1955, Martin Luther King Jr led the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott. Blacks were not allowed to occupy seats in the Montgomery buses until the whites had occupied. The boycott stopped blacks from patronizing the Montgomery buses. King Jr was arrested and thrown in jail for his involvement in the boycott. Well, it wasn’t that bad a situation as it had given him media attention and made him famous nationally; as a result, his influence and voice increased.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group formed by civil activists to create a collective voice and power for black churches, gave him the first platform to address a national audience. The SCLC group was formed to have nonviolent engagements and protests that would push civil rights reformation. He was the leader of the SCLC until his assassination.

He also became honorary president for the Gandhi Society for Human Rights, which pushed President Kennedy with a document to give an executive order to support civil rights. They failed, as President Kennedy did not do so.

In 1961, he and the SCLC were involved in the activities of the Albany Movement. The Albany movement was a coalition against desegregation. In December 1961, he was involved in a mass arrest of members who were demonstrating. In 1962, he was sentenced to forty-five days in prison or a fine of $178. King Jr chose to go to prison and was bailed out after three days in jail.

In 1963, King’s SCLC went on a desegregation campaign in Birmingham, Alabama. He was arrested and jailed but had succeeded in creating some reforms through the campaign.

In August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr, as an SCLC representative, joined leaders of five other civil rights organizations to pull the famous ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.’ He gave his all-time famous speech, ‘I Have a Dream’ during the march.

Martin Luther King Jr was involved in marches that nonviolently protested for civil rights and for the rights of the blacks, who were discriminated against, segregated from the whites, and disenfranchised. They succeeded in getting some of these rights into the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Most of the rights they pushed for were also added to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was actively involved in many other movements that fought for one right or the other. He joined the Voting Rights Movement in Selma, Alabama, in 1964. He was also part of the Open Housing Movement, Chicago, in 1966. He also firmly opposed the Vietnam War in 1967, as he believed money that would be spent in the war could be used in the interest of society.

About a year after he had publicly opposed America’s participation in the Vietnam War, he was gruesomely assassinated in a balcony at Lorraine Motel. It was on the 4th day of April 1968, when he had gone to Memphis, Tennessee. James Earl Ray shot him. King Jr died about an hour later at St. Joseph’s Hospital. James Earl Ray, the assassin, was arrested in England in1969 and sentenced to 99 years in prison. He died in 1998. King Jr died at the age of 39.

Martin Luther King Jr received many awards and honorary titles. He received, among others, the 1964 youngest Nobel Peace Prize, American Liberties Medallion, Spingarn medal. He received honorary degrees from many universities and colleges. King Jr also posthumously won the best-spoken word recording, presidential Medal of Freedom, and congressional gold medal, together with his wife.

Works that King Jr did include; Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, The Measure of a Man, Strength to Love, Why We Can’t Wait, Where Do We Go from Here, The Trumpet of Conscience, among others.

Martin Luther King Jr goes down in history as a man who used nonviolent yet firm approaches to fight the racial discrimination, racial segregation, inequality, and disenfranchisement of the black community and society. He continues to be the face of civil rights and liberation against injustice and discrimination.

The life of the man who lived many years ahead of others and stood firmly at the centre of a freedom fight continues to teach us afterwards, the path to follow if we want freedom, a legacy that has come to stay. He lived for many, and many still live on; hence Martin Luther King Jr lives on!

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