Dreaming of Equality

Segregation and racism ruled the world only a few years ago. Remarkably, a man name Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, just in time for the fight for civil rights to be put into motion. His experiences and life events led him to be a great speaker and able to move thousands of people into action for equal civil rights.

Martin Luther King Jr., birth name Michael, was the grandson of a minister of the Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia. The ministry had been handed down through the generations, along with the adopted name Martin Luther after the German protestant religious leader, and King was expected to carry on the tradition. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up the middle of the three children. He had a loving mother and a father that strongly believed that everyone should be created equal. Being a minister, Martin King Sr. believed that it was against God’s will to treat others differently because of their race. Growing up with a church-based family allowed King to adapt his communication tone to that of a preacher’s. In all of his speeches given, he sounds like a minister in church, but that did not make any of them less effective.  King followed in his father’s footsteps and many of his ideas developed because of his father’s opinion.

Education came easy for Martin Luther King Jr. He started public segregated school at age five and then later attended Booker T. Washington High school. During his time there he had managed to skip two grade levels and began attending Morehouse College at the age of 15. In 1948, Martin had earned his sociology degree and went to the Liberal Crozer Theological Seminary to further his education in Chester, Pennsylvania. Finally getting his Doctoral study, he went to Massachusetts to continue studying at Boston University where he completed his Ph.D in 1955. During that time, he had met his wife Coretta Scott and became pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama. Martin Luther King Jr. had completed all of this hard work by the age of 25.

It was not until he was done with school that King really started getting into civil rights movements. His mentor, Reinbold Niebuhr, was an American theologian and preacher that gave King inspiration. Later on, a man named E.D Nixon offered King a position on NAACP chapter, which meant the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Nixon wanted King to lead a boycott and he gladly accepted. Leading this group led to many speeches given by Martin Luther King Jr. that ended in police brutality on the demonstrators attending. On August 28, 1963, King led a group to Washington in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This is where he gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. Over 200,000 people stood and observed while King gave this speech. This speech led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and also the Voting Rights Act of 1965. During that time, Martin Luther King Jr. also received a Nobel Peace prize in 1964. The ideas of Martin Luther King Jr. were influenced by many people like his father and his mentor, but he also grew up in the heart of the civil rights movement. This could have greatly affected his frame of reference, but looking back he was not the only one who fought for equal civil rights. He was surrounded by his peers fighting for the same accomplishment and that was to be equal to whites. The ministry mixed with civil rights equality gave Martin Luther King Jr. a special tone to his speeches. He was articulate and loud, but also mentioned bible references and God’s will. King had a likeable approach which benefitted him during his fight for equal rights.

Martin Luther King Jr. gave his last speech and then was assassinated the night after by a sniper by the name of James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. He died April 4, 1968, but left behind a legacy that soon would be fulfilled. Major outbreaks of racial violence occurred after the news of King’s death spread. Movements grew and worked harder to pass equal laws. The results today come from them the communication of one man who had a dream.

Sarah Miller, Business Major-IUPUC

http://www.biography.com/people/martin-luther-king-jr-9365086    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89344679

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