The legacy of Dr. King exemplifies a life of service deeply rooted in unwavering faith. (RNS) reports today that people visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial think of King as a spiritual leader. 48 years after Dr. King was taken from our midst, many people have celebrated milestones of his life, the Civil Rights Movement, and other historic achievements inspired by King’s spirit-filled leadership.
Michael Luther King, Jr. was born on Tuesday, January 15, 1929 at the family home in Atlanta, Georgia (his name was later changed to Martin). Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed in the US on the third Monday of January (01/18/2016). A Baptist minister by training, Dr. King raised the public consciousness of racism, working to end racial discrimination and segregation in the U.S.
- 1948: King graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga. with a B.A.
- 1951: King graduated from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pa.
- 1953 (June 18): King married Coretta Scott. They eventually have 4 children.
- 1954: The Kings moved to Montgomery, Alabama to preach at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. (May) In the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, the Supreme Court rules that schools can no longer be segregated by race.
- 1955: King finished his Ph.D. in systematic theology. He led the bus boycott that was sparked by Rosa Parks. It was declared unconstitutional in the United States to segregate or discriminate based on skin color.
- 1956: King was arrested for driving 30 mph in a 25 mph zone (the first of 30 arrests for his civil rights activism). His house was bombed a few days later.
- 1957: King helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference work for civil rights. He was its first president. (September) Nine Black students are the first to integrate Little Rock (Arkansas) High School.
- 1958: King had his first book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” published. (July) The first organized sit-in is held in Wichita, Kansas for the purpose of desegregating public establishments.
- 1959: King visited India, home to his hero, Mohandas Gandhi. King credits his success in civil rights to Gandhi’s passive resistance techniques.
- 1960: King left Atlanta to pastor his father’s church, Ebenezer Baptist Church.
- King and other civil rights supporters participated in lunch counter sit-ins.
- 1960s: He was the leader of the entire civil rights movement in the that called for working out conflicts with kindness and love as opposed to hate and violence.
- 1961: Activists organized voter registration drives to help Southern Blacks overcome barriers placed by state governments. The first “Freedom Ride” is organized in which activists travelled across the South by bus to ensure fair treatment of minority passengers.
- 1962: King met with President John F. Kennedy to discuss the importance of civil rights.
- 1963 (April): Activists use sit-ins and kneel-ins at churches and marches in order to end segregation in downtown Birmingham, Alabama stores. National outrage is sparked by police brutality against activists. (August 28) King led the March on Washington and delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. Over 250,000 civil rights supported attended this event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
- 1964: King had another book, “Why We Can’t Wait” published. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize on October 14, 1964. This honor was majorly in recognition of his untiring work to end racial prejudice in the U.S. by leading a non-violent resistance. (July) The Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress, outlawing any form of racial segregation in all public and private institutions and facilities.
- 1965: King and 3200 people marched from Selma to Montgomery. King met with President Lyndon B. Johnson and other leaders about voting rights for blacks. (March) During a protest march from Selma to Montgomery, State Troopers brutally attacked civil rights activists (Bloody Sunday).
- 1968: King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, by James Earl Ray. Almost 100,000 people from all over the world walked with King’s coffin in the street. King was named Time magazine’s man of the year.
- 1986: President Ronald Reagan declared Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday. Dr. King is the only non-president to have a national holiday dedicated in his honor.
- 1996: Congress authorized a memorial to be built in Dr. King’s honor (The Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, of which Dr. King was a member, had led efforts for this cause).
- 1998: The Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation was founded in 1998 to raise money for construction.
- 1999: A location had been was established for the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
- 2000: ROMA Design Group’s design was selected out of 900 candidates for the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.
- 2006: A ceremonial groundbreaking was held for the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.
- 2008: An African American, Barack Obama, was elected 44th U.S. President. Following in King’s footsteps, President Obama has called our nation to prayer on various occasions.
- 2009: President Elect, Barack Obama was inaugurated to the office of President. Construction began on the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.
- 2011 (August 22): The Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial was opened to the public. According to the National Park Service, it has had more than 5 million visitors since its opening. The memorial is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There is no fee to visit. Park rangers are on site to answer questions from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily. This memorial is the fourth to honor a non-president and the first to honor a man of color at the National Mall.
- 2012. President Barack Obama re-elected.
- 2013: President Barack Obama took the oath of office for his second term.
There remain other milestones and history still being written for the Civil Rights movement of the current generation.
The Washington, D.C. National Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial stands on a four-acre site adjacent to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, in direct line of sight between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. The centerpiece of the memorial is a 30-foot statue of Dr. King carved into the Stone of Hope, which is taken from the center of a large boulder (representing the Mountain of Despair). Text from King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is carved into the Stone of Hope.
On MLK Day, people worldwide recognize the historic and empowering service and leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by serving their community. If you are looking for ways to get involved in the National Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, visit http://mlkday.gov.