Sunday, November 22, 2015

Martin Luther King Jr. - Biography and Contribution to Social Transformation


“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

 “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

King was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, to Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., and Alberta Williams King.

As a child, King liked singing and music. He became a member of the junior choir in his church.

King's father used to  protest segregation and insults to black people.  In his adolescent years, King also felt  resentment against whites due to the "racial humiliation" that he, his family, and his neighbors often had to endure in the segregated South.

King attended Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta. He became known for his public speaking ability and was part of the school's debate team. During his junior year, he won first prize in an oratorical contest sponsored by the Negro Elks Club in Dublin, Georgia. . At age 15, King passed the entrance examiantion and entered Morehouse. In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a B.A. degree in sociology, and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a B.Div. degree in 1951. King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953 They became the parents of four children: Yolanda King ( 1955), Martin Luther King III ( 1957), Dexter Scott King ( 1961), and Bernice King (1963).

King received his Ph.D. degree on June 5, 1955, with a dissertation on "A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman".

Civil Rights for Blacks Movement

Southern Christian Leadership Conference

In 1957, King  founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a  group  created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct nonviolent protests in the service of civil rights reform.  King led the SCLC until his death.  The SCLC's 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom was the first time King addressed a national audience.

In 1958, King published the book "Stride Toward Freedom."  In 1959, he published a short book called The Measure of A Man, which contained his sermons "What is Man?" and "The Dimensions of a Complete Life". The sermons argued for man's need for God's love and criticized the racial injustices of Western civilization.

Harry Wachtel, helped  King to  found  a tax-exempt fund to cover the expenses of the nonviolent civil rights movement and this organization was named the "Gandhi Society for Human Rights". King served as honorary president for the group.  King and the Gandhi Society produced a document in 1962 calling on the President John Kennedy to follow in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln and use an Executive Order to implement rights for Blacks - a kind of Second Emancipation Proclamation - Kennedy did not accept it.

King  organized, nonviolent protests against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow laws and they received extensive media coverage. Journalistic accounts and televised footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights workers and marchers, produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion that convinced the majority of Americans that the Civil Rights Issue  was the most important issue in American politics in the early 1960s.

King organized and led marches for blacks' right to vote, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights. His efforts succeeded despite his murder and most of these rights were successfully enacted into the law of the United States with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was shot and killed by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.,_Jr.