MARTIN LUTHER KING
RELIGIOUS AND CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER
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.