This Monday will mark 37 years that we have observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day. However, it is actually today (January 15th) that the Civil Rights Leader was born. Happy birthday MLK Jr!
I don't really know what more I can say about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that hasn't already been said. I took a stab at it last year in my article, "7 Interesting Facts You May Not Have Known About Martin Luther King. Jr." If you haven't had a chance, check it out. I really tried to do my homework and am confident that the historical snippets provided are rarely a part of anyone's black history program of the legend that was Martin Luther King Jr.
Michael Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, GA. His father, Michael Luther King Sr. was a pastor and his mother Alberta Williams King was a former schoolteacher. He had an older sister, Christine and younger brother Alfred. Michael Jr. grew up in somewhat of a prosperous African American neighborhood. It was around age 5, that his name was changed to Martin. Michael Sr. had attended a trip for the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and became inspired by the lessons he learned at the sites associated with reformation leader Martin Luther. So inspired that he changed both his and his son's name from Michael to Martin.
Martin Luther King Jr. attended segregated schools up until about age 15 when he was admitted to Morehouse College. He initially studied law and medicine. However, under the mentorship of Dr. Benjamin Mays, he graduated in 1948 and entered Crozer Theological Seminar in Pennsylvania. After earning his Bachelor of Divinity degree, he enrolled into a graduate program at Boston University. It would be in Boston that he would meet his wife, Coretta Scott. They married in 1953 and settled in her home state, Alabama. Together the couple would have four children: Yolanda, Martin III, Dexter, and Bernice.
In 1955, Rosa Parks would refuse to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama prompting what would later become the 381 day Montgomery Bus Boycott. MLK Jr. was selected as the leader and official spokesman of this movement. MLK Jr. entered the national spotlight and became the chief figurehead of the organized, nonviolent resistance movement.
MLK Jr. survived firebombing of his home by white supremacists, stabbing by a sharecropper's daughter who believed he was a communist conspirator, and being jailed after a campaign protesting segregation in Birmingham, AL. All the while, MLK Jr. took the role of reassuring his advocates and pushing for nonviolent resistance to the cruel and inhumane Jim Crow segregation laws.
Mention MLK Jr.'s name and it is almost always most synonymous with the "I Have A Dream" speech during his March on Washington August 28, 1963 attended by anywhere between 200,000 and 300,000 people. This moment cemented his place into history, and he would later be named "Man of the Year" by TIME magazine in 1964. He would also go on to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person ever awarded at that time.
The second attempt of the Selma to Montgomery march led by MLK Jr. and supported by President Lyndon B. Johnson who sent in federal troops occurred in 1965. Later that August, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act which guaranteed the right to vote to all African Americans.
After Selma, MLK Jr. began to broaden his scope to include Vietnam War and poverty among all races of U.S. citizens. However, his activism was cut short. On April 4, 1968, MLK Jr. was assassinated while standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, TN where he had gone to support sanitation worker's strike. It would take years of campaigning and lobbying before MLK Day was signed by President Ronald Regan in 1983. The first observance of MLK Day was the third Monday in January 1986.
There have been books written about the man that was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It would take that to truly encapsulate the life. Today's article was just a brief highlight and reminder of the man behind the lazy day of rest we get to enjoy the third Monday in January. Of course, there may be some facts that were left out of this article. Please feel free to share them in the comments below; I only ask that you be kind and be respectful. Wellness is a journey encompassing all parts of us so thank you for joining me as we tickled our intellectual wellness today with these historical facts. Please remember that wherever you are on this wellness journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading!
Did you know? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was the first modern private citizen to be honored with a federal holiday.
"Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed." ~Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr.
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