Martin Luther King Jr.

( [email protected] ) Jan 19, 2004 01:31 PM EST

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) Born in Atlanta, GA on January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the eldest son of Martin Luther King, Sr., pastor and civil rights leader, and Alberta Williams King, whose father was the Rev. A.D. Williams, predecessor to King Sr. as pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist church, and a founder of Atlanta's chapter of the NAACP.

He entered Morehouse College at the age of 15, and was ordained a Baptist minister at 17. He graduated from Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, PA. as class president at 22, married Coretta Scott in June 1953, at 24, and received a doctorate in systematic theology in 1955, at age 26. By this time, the core of King's philosophy of nonviolent protest had been formed, based on the ideals of Mohandas K. (Mahatma) Gandhi. King returned to the south and accepted the pastorate of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

In December of 1955, Rosa Lee Parks, a black woman, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus to a white man. The black community chose Dr.King to organize a boycott to end racial segregation in public transportation. King gained national prominence during the course of this 381-day action, which deserves more study than this short biography allows. Despite efforts to suppress the movement, the Supreme Court's mandate outlawed all segregated public transportation in the city.

Clearly a victory for nonviolent protest, King emerged as a highly respected leader and was chosen as president of the newly formed Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).