Hon. Am. History
1 April 2014
Martin Luther King Jr.
As the unquestioned leader of the peaceful Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was at the same time one of the most beloved and one of the most hated men of his time. From his involvement in the Birmingham March in 1963 until his untimely death in 1968, King's message of change through peaceful means added to the movement's numbers and gave it its moral strength. The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. is embodied in these two simple words: equality and nonviolence.
King was born right in the middle of the segregated nation. Born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929, King was welcomed by his father, mother and his sister Christine (Jeffrey 5). King grew up in a loving and catholic environment. His father was a pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church and his mother was a housewife. Growing up King had no problem making friends with everyone. When he was five one of his most frequent playmates was a white boy whose father was the owner of the local grocery store. Out of the blue, King’s playmate was taken away from him. The boy’s father said to King to go away and never play with son ever again. Shocked King ran home and cried to his mother. At this point his mother dropped everything to talk to King and taught him the basics of segregation in his time period (Jeffrey 8). She told him to never look down on himself or his race, he should be proud of whom he is. This was his first encounter with the standing of blacks on the social ladder. He figured out they are on the bottom and he wanted to change that.
He never doubted his mother, like every southern black, his lived in a segregated, unequal society. King grew up like every black child, segregated schools, not allowed to go to parks and pools where whites hung out and he was forced to eat and sleep in different hotels and cafes than whites (Schraff 20). He had a dream of attending a major university, but it would be very hard to follow his dream since blacks never attend major universities in the south. When walking on sidewalks blacks were expected to step aside for whites and if a black would ever enter a white’s house they had to enter through the back door, never the front (Jeffrey 33). The everyday life of black was separated from whites. Everything front water fountains to buses were segregated in some way. It would take a brave person to challenge the system and King wanted to be that person that made everything right.
King attended Morehouse College in Atlanta at the age of 15 (Carson 43). He easily got accepted because of his exceptional schoolwork and the blacks that should be in college were drafted into the war creating many openings for King (Carson 43). King didn’t know what he was going to study. He was pondering on become a doctor or a lawyer, but after a few years he finally found his calling. He would follow in the footsteps of his father and become a pastor. When he was done studying at Morehouse King was offered to be the minister of a church in Montgomery, Alabama.
In Montgomery King was very popular and the people loved him. They would come listen to his sermons in his church. Kings sermons would be about taking a more active part in resisting segregation. Everyone listen to every word he said and never moved until he was finished. He was lighting a fire under the blacks of Montgomery.
He was motivating people to join the NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Carson 13). The NAACP was fight for the rights for blacks to be equal as every white man. The association originally started with 5,000 members, but when King and his supports join the member count went up to 20,000 (Jakoubek 43).
King had a different approach on the way he tackled segregation. Most activists are either violent or teach there follows to be violent to get what they want, but not King. A man named