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Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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To inspire a shared vision you must have certain qualities. You have to make a shared sense of destiny with people. You have to give life to that vision, and you have to make it appeal to the masses. These are only a few ways to recruit other people to your beliefs. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was capable of these things and he inspired millions of people worldwide.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents were the Reverend King and Mrs. Martin Luther King. He had a sister and a brother. As a child he would play in his front yard with two white boys. The boys' father owned a general store in the neighborhood, so naturally they knew each other since they were small. One day, the King children went to the store to meet the boys, but that day was different. The boys said that they weren't allowed to play with black kids. This was Martin King Jr.'s first encounter with segregation. He didn't understand it, but once he did, he swore that he would change the world.

King buried himself in studies to be as well educated as possible. At the age of 15, King graduated Booker T. Washington High School and was accepted into Morehouse College. After graduating college he went to Crozer Theological Seminary. He joined the Baptist Ministry on February 25, 1948 when he was 19 years old. In 1951, he was accepted to Boston University. While there, he met Coretta Scott, and they got married in 1953. Shortly after, they moved to Montgomery, Alabama. On June 5, 1955 he received a doctorate of philosophy in systematic theology from the Boston University.

Soon after he earned his doctorate, King learned of Rosa Parks and a bus boycott. This was his first calling to fight against segregation. On December 5, 1955, he was made president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, making him the official spokesman for the boycott. In November of 1956, the Supreme Court ruled bus segregation illegal. This raised the morale of black people in the U.S. There was now proof that they could obtain equal rights. The struggle began, but King was using a new method. He practiced non-violence in his boycotts and marches.

King formed the Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. This conference would discuss ways to fight for equal rights without violence. On May 17th, he spoke to 15,000 people in Washington D.C. about equal rights and the ways they could work together to achieve them. After this and many other speeches, Congress passed their first Civil Rights act. This led King to write his first book, "Stride to Freedom," in 1958. During a speech in Harlem the same year, a crazed freak stabbed him and he almost died. This was "his first wound in the struggle for rights." He met with President Eisenhower and other black rights activists (Roy Wilkins, A. Phillip Randolph, and Lester Grange) at the White House to discuss problems affecting black Americans.

In 1959, King went to India to study Gandhi's non-violent philosophy. He believed that non-violence was the key to winning the struggle for civil rights. Soon after coming back from India, King resigned from pastoring the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church so he could focus all his effort on fighting for equality. He then moved to Atlanta, Georgia so he could orchestrate more protests and marches. While he was with Gandhi, he learned new ways of protesting, some of which included freedom rides, which were long car rides in which people would gather and speak their beliefs out to the masses.

The following year King became co-pastor with his father at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He realized that through the church he could share his vision with more people. In Greensboro, North Carolina, lunch counter sit-ins were occurring. Setting an example, King sat at a "whites only" counter at a restaurant waiting to be served. He was sentenced to four months in jail, but John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy spoke on his behalf and the charges were dropped. Shortly after his near-jail experience, King founded the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. He started it to organize non-violent student protests at schools. The committee helped organize and fund protests put on by the students including those at the Shaw University of Raleigh, North Carolina.

In November 1961, the Interstate Commerce Commission banned bus segregation on interstate travel. One of King's major problems with segregation had been resolved. Not only were blacks getting more rights, but as the war moved on, these victories boosted their morale. An organization called C.O.R.E. (Congress on Racial Equality) began its first freedom ride through the South on a Greyhound bus to celebrate the new freedom.

After several arrests for demonstrating without



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