Tristan Hughes ’19, Business & Ad
Dedicated, restless, and inspiring. On Jan. 5, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) was born to a minister’s family in Atlanta. He spent the majority of his childhood singing with his church choir and studying religion. Living in the South as an African American at the time subjected young MLK to repeated racial discrimination. Later in his youth, he was recognized by his community to as a phenomenal speaker.
King’s father was the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Atlanta, Georgia. Inspired by his father’s fearless protests against racism, MLK dedicated his life to the Christian faith and the civil rights movement. His first major victory came during the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. Disgusted by the segregation of public transportation, Dr. King led a full scale boycott of the bus. The protest lasted 385 days before the Supreme Court ruled that the segregation of public transportation was unconstitutional in the pivotal case Browder v. Gayle. From this victory, MLK was recognized as the face of the new Civil Rights Movement.
After this major win for the movement, many people joined the fight. They used the boycott as inspiration. If they could desegregate transportation, what else could they accomplish?
One of MLK’s biggest inspirations was Mahatma Gandhi. Ghandi once said, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” King took this to heart and implemented Gandhi’s tactics of peaceful protest to the Civil Rights Movement throughout the south. He is now known worldwide for his peaceful marches and protests. He urged the black community to stay non-violent because violence would only hurt their cause.
King is best known for The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom of which he led. Roughly 250,000 people joined the effort to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It was during this rally that King delivered his most famous speech: ‘I Have a Dream’.
Very few people sacrificed as much as King did for the cause. He was arrested more than 20 times. His life and the life of his family was threatened every day, but still, he persisted. On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated on the balcony of his motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Today, he is remembered on the third monday of every January on a day designated for his triumphs as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Throughout all of black history month this February, Americans should take the time to remember the sacrifices that MLK, and all civil rights activists have made, and continue to make in order to guarantee freedom and improve the equality of our nation. We will continue to look to the civil rights icons of the past as inspiration to continue the good today.
Photo courtesy of Vox