Martin Luther King was born into a prosperous middle-class household immersed in the Southern Black ministry’s tradition: his father and maternal grandfather were Baptist ministers. King’s parents were both college graduates, and his father had taken over as pastor of Atlanta’s prominent Ebenezer Baptist Church from his father-in-law. In the years before the civil rights movement, the family lived on Auburn Avenue, sometimes known as “Sweet Auburn,” a busy “Black Wall Street” that housed some of the country’s largest and most successful Black businesses and churches. Martin had a good education and was raised in a loving extended household.
However, King’s privileged background did not shield him from the biases that plagued the South at the time. When he was just six years old, one of his white playmates informed him that his parents would no longer let him play with King since the children were now attending segregated schools. King’s maternal grandmother, whose death in 1941 left him shocked and unstable, was his closest companion in these early years. The 12-year-old King attempted suicide by jumping from a second-story window after learning about her deadly heart attack while witnessing a parade without his parents’ consent.
Martin Luther King, Jr. made history, but he was also changed by his deep family roots in the African-American Baptist church. King’s life was noteworthy in the ways it reflected and influenced so many of the twentieth century’s critical intellectual, cultural, and political changes, even though he was only 39 years old at the time of his death.
The Early Life of MLK
Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929, at 501 Auburn Avenue in Atlanta, Georgia. Although his birth certificate listed his name as “Michael,” it was eventually changed to Martin Luther in honor of German reformer Martin Luther.
Everything in Georgia was segregated when King was growing up; 70 years after the Confederacy was destroyed, blacks were separated from whites. This meant that black and white students could not attend the same schools, use the same public restrooms, dine at the same restaurants, drink from the same water fountains, or visit the same hospitals. Everything was on its own.
King experienced discrimination for the first time when he was six years old (being treated worse than a white person because he was black). His white classmate was sent to an all-white school, and he was assigned to an all-black school.
King won a speech contest when he was 14 years old for civil rights. He was compelled to give up his seat and stand for the duration of the bus ride so that a white person could sit down. White people were viewed as more important than black people at the time. A white person might take a seat from any African American if they so desired. Later, King stated he was “the angrier I’ve ever been in my life” because he had to give up his seat.
When Did MLK Go to College?
|Name:||Martin Luther King|
|College:||Morehouse College, Boston University|
|Degree:||B.S. in Sociology, Ph.D. in Theology|
|Organizations:||Alpha Phi Alpha|
Martin Luther King received his education at a young age. MLK’s mother was a schoolteacher who taught him to read before he started elementary school. He started at David T. Howard Elementary School in Atlanta when he was five years old, but because the beginning age was six at the time, he had to return the following year.
Martin Luther King Jr. never finished high school. MLK Jr. was so bright that he bypassed his freshman and senior high school years and went straight to college during his junior year. He enrolled in college at the age of fifteen.
What College Did MLK Go To?
In 1948, King earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Morehouse College. Martin Luther King was first introduced to Henry David Thoreau’s writings at Morehouse College. King was influenced by Henry David Thoreau’s article on civil disobedience, which sparked a movement that would change the face of our civilization.
The church immediately summoned Martin Luther King, and he utilized it as a springboard to begin his path toward equality. MLK Jr gave his first public address at the Ebenezer Church, where his father was a minister when he was seventeen years old. King was ordained as a priest and worked at the church with the senior King.
MLK Jr. attended Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, his first integrated school, in 1948. King absorbed the teachings of numerous inspirational individuals throughout history, but it was here that he first encountered Mahatma Gandhi’s contemplative teachings. Crozer University awarded King a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951.
When MLK received his Ph.D. in theology from Boston University in 1955, he became Dr. Martin Luther King. While attending school in Boston, King met Coretta Scott, a young Southern lady who was a student at the nearby New England Conservatory of Music. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s wife, Coretta Scott, would marry him soon after.
Time Spent in Fraternity
While a student at Boston University, King joined the Boston Sigma chapter of Alpha in June 1952. During the Montgomery bus boycott, fraternity brothers stood by King at his trial and donated money to the Montgomery Improvement Association.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘s contributions to his beloved Fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, are little known (the first African-American intercollegiate Greek-lettered Fraternity).
Montgomery Bus Boycott
The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a civil rights demonstration in Montgomery, Alabama, in which African Americans refused to board city buses in protest of segregated seating. The boycott lasted from December 5, 1955, to December 20, 1956, and is considered the first large-scale anti-segregation demonstration in the United States. Rosa Parks, an African American lady, was jailed and fined four days before the boycott began for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. The United States Supreme Court eventually forced Montgomery to integrate its bus system, and one of the boycott’s leaders, a young pastor named Martin Luther King, Jr., became a famous figure in the civil rights movement in the United States.
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