Wednesday, January 15, 2014



Atlanta, Georgia  (JFK+50) Eighty-five years ago today, January 15, 1929, the leader of the civil rights movement, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born at 501 Auburn Street here in Atlanta.

                         Jennifer White
                   at MLK's Birthplace
                      Atlanta, Georgia
           Photo by John White (2008)

Martin's father, Michael, changed his name to honor the German protestant religious leader, Martin Luther.  

MLK, Jr.'s mother was Alberta Williams King.

            Young Martin Luther King, Jr.
              Beck Cultural Center Exhibit
                     Knoxville, Tennessee
              Photo by John White (2008)

The younger King graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 with a B.A. in Sociology.  

Martin earned his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania 3 years later.

King married Coretta Scott on June 18, 1953 and received his PhD from Boston University in 1955, the same year he led the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott.

Dr. King was pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery before becoming co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

            Ebenezer Baptist Church
                   Atlanta, Georgia
         Photo by John White (2008)

Martin Luther King, Jr, who became the leader of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, preached a philosophy of non-violent protest.

This philosophy was patterned after that of Mohandas Gandhi.

During the March on Washington for equal rights in August 1963, Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech which is considered to be his best.

Afterward, King and other civil rights leaders met with President John F. Kennedy at the White House.  JFK greeted them with the words...

"I have a dream."

In 1964, MLK was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and in the following years, while continuing to lead the civil rights movement, became an opponent of the war in Vietnam.

        Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
             Library of Congress Photo

Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel, which is now the National Civil Rights Museum.

                           John White
           National Civil Rights Museum
                   Memphis, Tennessee
         Photo by Dr. Chad Smith (2008)

The Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday was established in 1983.  It is celebrated, as it will be next week, on the 3rd Monday of January.

The bill for the holiday was signed by President Ronald Reagan on November 2, 1983 and the holiday was first observed in 1986.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial overlooking the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. was dedicated on October 16, 2011.

The memorial, by Lei Yixin of the People's Republic of China, is composed of 159 granite blocks and was built at a cost of $120 million.

      Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
             1964 Independence Avenue
                       Washington, D.C.
              Photo by John White (2011)

At the dedication ceremonies, President Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States, said:

"In this place (Dr. King) will stand for all time, a black preacher with no official rank or title who gave voice to our deepest dreams and our most lasting ideals."

             Martin Luther King Memorial
                Photo by John White (2011)

Dick Holler wrote a song, recorded by Dion in 1968, titled "Abraham, Martin and John."

The song pays tribute to four assassinated American leaders who gave their lives in the pursuit of freedom and equality...

Abraham Lincoln
John F. Kennedy
Martin Luther King, Jr., 
Robert F."Bobby" Kennedy.

Following is the verse about MLK, Jr.

Has anybody here 
seen my old friend Martin?
Can you tell me
where he's gone?
He freed a lot of people
But it seems
the good they die young.
I just looked 'round
and he's gone.