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MARTIN LUTHER KING

RELIGIOUS AND CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER (1929-1968)

Was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin.  His grandfather began the family's long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931, his father had served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-paster.  Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received his B.A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished African-American institution in Atlanta which both his father and grandfather had been graduated.

After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly White senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951.  With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955.  In Boston he met and eventually married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments.  Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.  In 1954, Martin Luther King accepted the pastoral of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama

Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was by this time a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation.  In December, 1955, he accepted the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States.  The bus boycott which started as a result of Rosa Parks refusal to move from her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus lasted 382 days.  On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and Whites rode the buses as equals. 

Revised: July 18, 2013.