Martin Luther King Jr. was actually born Michael Luther King and later changed his name to Martin. He was born on January 15, 1929 to Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. He was the middle child of three siblings. He had an older sister, Willie Christine King, and a younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King. His father was a Baptist minister as was his grandfather and great-grandfather and Martin Luther King Jr. eventually followed in their footsteps, becoming the pastor of The Dexter Ave., Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama in 1954.
King grew up in Atlanta and attended Booker T. Washington high school. He was a gifted student and skipped both the ninth and 12th grade. He entered Morehouse College at just 15 years of age although he had not formally graduated from high school. He graduated from Morehouse in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. He then enrolled in the Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester Pennsylvania. He graduated from that school in 1951 with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. On June 18, 1953 he married Coretta Scott and they eventually had four children together.
Very early in his career, King became a civil rights activist. He led the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 and was one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957; he also served as its first president. At this time the civil rights movement was just beginning and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference provided leadership for the movement. Wherever there was any kind of injustice and protests going on, King was there. Between 1957 in 1968 he spoke over 2500 times and traveled over 6,000,000 miles to take part in and provide leadership for various protests.
In 1963 King led the March on Washington which was one of the largest political rallies in US history at the time. The march was to bring attention to inequality in civil and economic rights for African-Americans and it was at this particular rally that Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the historic I Have a Dream speech. The next year, in 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for battling racial inequality through nonviolence. He was 35 years of age at the time and was the youngest man to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1968 King was preparing to lead a protest march, supporting garbage workers in Memphis Tennessee that were on strike. On the evening of April 4, he was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his motel room. After his death he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and a Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. In 1986, the United States established a federal holiday honoring the late civil rights leader.
In a few months I am taking a trip to Washington DC where I plan to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. national Memorial. Money is tight for me right now but I was able to find a hotels.com coupon that helped me get a better room rate and I am very happy that I will be able to make the trip.