row, right) in an early
photo with his family.
From Left to Right:
Alberta Williams King
Luther King, Sr.
brother Alfred Daniel,
and sister Christine.
In between his college years, he met and married Coretta
Scott on June 18, 1953.
He became the minister of
Dexter Avenue Baptist
Church in Montgomery,
Alabama, on September 1,
King undertook the final stage of his formal education at Boston
University and received his PhD in 1955.
Denise (Nov 17,
King III (Oct 23,
Scott (Jan 30,
On 1 December 1955 a
black woman named
Rosa Parks refused to
give up her seat on a
full Montgomery bus.
Bus company policy
dictated that black
passengers fill seats
from the back and
white passengers fill
seats from the front.
Where the sections
met, blacks were
expected to yield to
The 'Montgomery Improvement Association'
(MIA) created a list of demands to propose to the
city, and selected Reverend King to lead the
These were the demands for the bus company:
1) that seating be available on a strictly first-
come, first-served basis;
2) that drivers conduct themselves with greater
civility to black passengers; and
3) that black drivers be hired for predominately
To secure these demands, no African Americans
would ride the buses on Monday, December 5.
The boycott lasted a year, and changed the
character of both King's life and the city of
To survive the boycott, the black community formed
a network of carpools and informal taxi services.
Some white employers were forced to transport
their black employees themselves.
Many blacks walked long distances to work each
The boycott quickly began to hurt the businesses of
city storeowners, not to mention that of the bus
company itself, which was losing 65% of its income.
On December 21 1956, over a year after Parks had refused to
relinquish her seat, King joined Ralph Abernathy and other
boycott leaders for a ride on the first desegregated bus.
On December 10, 1964 the Nobel Committee honored him at a
ceremony in Oslo, Norway. King announced that he accepted the
honor on behalf of the Civil Rights Movement, to which he would
give all $54,000 of the prize money.
28, 1963 at the
“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in
history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the
history of our nation.”
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live
out the true meaning of its creed: „We hold these truths to
be self-evident, that all men are created equal.‟”
“And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when
we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from
every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that
day when all of God's children, black men and white men,
Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to
join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
King and others were arrested several times. One
occasion, for attempting to eat at a whites-only
restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sits in a jail
cell in the Jefferson County Courthouse
in Birmingham, Ala. on November 3,
On the evening of 4 April, after a pre-dinner
organizational meeting, King stepped onto the
balcony of his second floor motel room. He talked
with friends on the ground below.
After a few moments, a loud sound, like that of a
firecracker, was heard, and King slammed against the
wall behind him.
From the house across the way, a sniper had shot
King in the neck and head, and King died within the
hour at St. Joseph's Hospital in Memphis.
Funeral services were held at Ebenezer Church in Atlanta.
150,000 people appeared to pay their last respects.
Robert, Ethel, and Jacqueline Kennedy visited Atlanta, as
did Richard Nixon.