The Facts: Who MLK Jr. Really Is?

Blog / Friday, January 15th, 2021

MLK day is almost here this January. This is perhaps the proper time to reflect on the accomplishments and legacies, not the mention life lessons that he has taught America. But who he is in life outside all the books, his writings and speeches?

It is a fact that MLK Jr. along with his wife, Coretta, and several leaders in the African American Civil Rights community led several protests, campaigns, and movements. He was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize in his mid-30s.

He is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. He was the son of early civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Sr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born Michael King Jr. but later changed his name. He was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968.

His grandfather began the family’s long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931. His father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death, MLK Jr. acted as co-pastor.

He married Coretta Scott on 1953, on the lawn of her parents’ house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama with four children: Yolanda King, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott King, and Bernice King. MLK Jr. became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama and also a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation.

Later on, he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. He traveled over six million miles and spoke a lot of times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action.

He wrote five books as well as numerous articles along the way. MLK also led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience.

Martin Luther King Jr, was shot dead on his hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, by white supremacist James Earl Ray on 1968. He was to lead a protest march in sympathy to support the African American sanitation workers, who were striking to protest unequal wages and working conditions.

James Earl Ray, was eventually captured at London’s Heathrow Airport in June 1968. He was sentenced to a 99-year jail term until his death in 1998.

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