During a time of civil unrest and social injustice, it was Baptist minister and activist Martin Luther King Jr. who rose to the occasion. It was not easy spreading his message of love and nonviolence. Martin Luther, on the road towards peace, made powerful enemies. This all ended with his assassination on the evening of April 4, 1968 – right before he was about to lead a protest.
But his dream will never fade – for those who believe in his values are determined to turn that dream into reality. Here are a few facts about the youngest Nobel peace prize recipient, Martin Luther King Jr..
Martin Luther King Jr.: Early Life and Years
Born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, Martin Luther King Jr. was in fact, originally named Michael King. His father also bore the same name, but he changed his – and his son’s name – in 1934, after they attended the 5th Baptist World Alliance Congress in Berlin. The name Martin Luther was chosen in honor of the German reformer, who was an influential figure in the Protestant Reformation.
Early on in life, King would witness his father’s brave acts against segregation. He also experienced the loneliness and humiliation of being treated unfairly due to skin color. But as he was a natural orator and public speaker, he would go on to achieve great things in school.
It was the Montgomery bus boycott though, that put Martin Luther King Jr. on the nation’s map. After Claudette Colvin (March 1955) and Rosa Parks (December 1955) refused to give up their seats on the bus, King led a boycott that lasted 385 days. Unfortunately, the situation became so tense that his house was bombed.
Martin Luther King Jr. was inspired by Mohandas Gandhi, who always advocated for love and non-violence. Despite his arrests and the hostility he faced, he continued his peaceful protests and appealed to the people with his natural talent for public speaking.
However, by the late 1960’s, the civil rights movement have begun to break. This is in part due to activists like Stokely Carmichael, who rejected King’s ideals of peaceful integration, in favor of African American self-reliance and self-defence.
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 by escaped white convict James Earl Ray on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee. This was just weeks before a planned interracial “Poor People’s March” to be held in Washington.
The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
Aside from being the youngest Nobel peace prize recipient at the age of 35, Martin Luther donated the prize money to further the civil rights movement. His nonviolent protests and speeches on equality live on to this day.
During their nonviolent campaigns against racism, he and his supporters were met with violence and brutality. But they did not respond in hate. The year after his momentous “I have a dream” speech, then President Lyndon B. Johnson passed a law prohibiting racial discrimination.
Doing what is right is never easy. Often, it is easier to turn the other cheek and walk away. But Martin Luther encourages all of us to live for one another. Here are some of the most famous Martin Luther King Jr. quotes to inspire you towards leadership and greatness.
Inspirational Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes