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Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Annual Day of Service

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Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen. In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott. 

King was a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the leading organization of its kind in the nation. He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the  Montgomery bus boycott. The boycott 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. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, and he and his family were subjected to personal abuse.

In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi. He led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience. and inspiring his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963), D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, “l Have a Dream”; he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of 20 times and assaulted at least 4 times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American Blacks but also a world figure.

At the age of 35, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.

Find the full history of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. – Biography. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Wed. 23 Sep 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1964/king/biographical/>

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