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Martin Luther King, Jr

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta on 15 January 1929. Both his father and grandfather were pastors in an African-American Baptist church. M. Luther King attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, (segregated schooling) and then went to study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and Boston University. During his time at University Martin Luther King became aware of the vast inequality and injustice faced by black Americans; in particular he was influenced by Gandhi's philosophy of non-violent protest. The philosophy of Gandhi tied in with the teachings of his Baptist faith. At the age of 24, King married Coretta Scott, a beautiful and talented young woman. After getting married, King became a priest at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

A turning point in the life of Martin Luther King was the Montgomery Bus Boycott which he helped to promote. His boycott also became a turning point in the civil rights struggle - attracting national press for the cause.

It began in innocuous circumstances on 5 December 1955.a civil rights activist Rosa Sparks , refused to given up her seat - she was sitting in a white only area. This broke the strict segregation of coloured and white people on the Montgomery buses. The bus company refused to back down and so Martin Luther King helped to organise a strike where coloured people refused to use any of the city buses. The boycott lasted for several months, the issue was then brought to the Supreme Court who declared the laws on segregation in buses as unconstitutional. Blacks and whites thereon rode the buses as equals.

After the success of the Montgomery bus boycott, King summoned together a number of black leaders in 1957 and laid the groundwork for the organization now known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the core of the Civil rights movement. King was elected its president, and he soon began helping other communities organize their own protests against discrimination. In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles. In particular the 1960s saw the rise of the Black power movement, embodied by Malcolm X and other black nationalist groups. However, King always remained committed to the ideals of non violent struggle.

Martin Luther King was an inspirational and influential speaker; he had the capacity to move and uplift his audiences. In particular he could offer a vision of hope. He captured the injustice of the time but also felt that this injustice was like a passing cloud. King frequently made references to God, the Bible and his Christian Faith.

His speeches were largely free of revenge, instead focusing on the need to move forward. He was named as Man of the Year by Time magazine

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