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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Updated on January 18, 2015

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 2015

On Monday 19th, January 2015, millions of people all over the world will come together to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an American clergyman turned civil rights activist and social reformer. Martin Luther King, who is credited with spearheading the American civil rights movement, is one of the greatest human rights icons to have ever lived. Until his death in 1968, he advocated for equal rights for all people. It is through his efforts and sacrifice that millions of citizens in America today enjoy equal rights, regardless of the race or color.

Birth and Education
Martin Luther King Jr. was born Michael King Jr. on January 15th 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His name was changed from Michael to Martin, after German Protestant leader Martin Luther. He attended Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia and then went to Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he graduated in sociology. Martin Luther also pursued studies in theology, attending Crozer Theological Seminary, Pennsylvania. He also attended Boston University for doctoral studies in systematic Theology. In June 5, 1955, he was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy.

Entry into civil rights activism
Martin Luther King Jr. was born and raised in Atlanta, where racial divide was rampant. Black and White people lived totally unequal lives. They went to different schools, restaurants and even sat in designated places in public transport vehicles. While this seemed wrong to Martin Luther, he was forced to accept it like all other people as the set way of life.
Things started changing in the summer of 1944 when 15-year old Martin Luther King left Atlanta for Simsbury, Connecticut to work in tobacco fields. He was surprised to find that Blacks living in the northern states of the country were not subject to the same racial injustice in Georgia. In a letter to his father, he noted how there was no racial discrimination after passing Washington. By the end of that summer, the seeds that would transform Martin Luther into a civil rights leader were firmly planted.

Martin Luther King Jr. accomplishments

The following are some of the achievements of Martin Luther:
Advocating for equality for all people
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for the rights of all people regardless of their race. He organized strikes, boycotts and marches to protest inequality that was rampant in the American society. Some of the most notable protests he led included:
1. Montgomery Bus Boycott; in 1955, Rosa Parks, an activist, was arrested after she refused to vacate her seat on a bus for a white passenger. Martin Luther King in response called for all black residents of Montgomery to boycott public transportation. This led to a citywide protest that lasted for a whole year until the Supreme Court abolished segregation in public transportation.

2. Memphis sanitation worker strike; Martin Luther supported the strike by Memphis sanitation workers who were protesting poor working conditions, discrimination and low pay. The strike ended with the city of Memphis agreeing to the workers demand.

3. March on Washington; in 1963, Martin Luther King and other civil rights movement leaders organized a huge march in Washington DC to advocate for equal rights. The march attracted a crowd of over 200,000 people protesting racial discrimination in employment, education and workplaces. It is in front of this huge crowd that Martin Luther King delivered the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Started the American Civil Rights Movement

Martin Luther’s actions inspired what would later become one of the greatest civil rights movements in the world. He defended Blacks in America and called for equal rights for all, regardless of their race or color. His action helped to overcome barriers, such as inequality in voting, access to public transportation, education, employment and other inequalities that arose from racial divide that was rampant in the American Society.

Use of non-violent methods to bring change

While Martin Luther strongly advocated for equality for all people, he was committed to peace and advocated for non-violent methods as a way of bringing social change. It is because of this commitment that Martin Luther’s protests were able to make progress in the American society and contribute to the success of civil rights movement.

Martin Luther is an iconic figure not only in the USA, but also around the world. He inspired many people around the world to overcome barriers brought by racial divide. He also inspired the formation of civil rights movements all over the world. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.


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