Michael Luther King was born January 15, 1929. Later he changed his name to that of his father, Martin. After years of living his faith and after much talk and many voting sessions, in 1986, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded an official United States national holiday named in his honor. He joined the ranks of only two others, President George Washington and world explorer Christopher Columbus. The third Monday of January is set aside to honor Dr. King’s contributions to the uniting of our nation and the world.
A graduate of Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, and Boston University, Dr. King became a Baptist preacher like his father. Following the teachings of Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Ghandi and other influential people, he took a strong stand for equality among all, and spoke rigorously about achieving that goal in peaceful, non-violent ways. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1953. His “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered at the March on Washington in 1963, helped him receive the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize – King the youngest person to ever win. The 17-minute speech called for racial equality and for discrimination to end.
It seems appropriate that our nation of dreams recently again honored Dr. Martin Luther King whose dream helped change our nation. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Dedication Ceremony October 16, 2011 is a great tribute to such a great man. It also seems appropriate that the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, highlighted the musical tribute. Franklin played an active role in the civil rights movement when her song “Respect” became the movement’s theme.
Dr. King traveled to Memphis, at the end of March, 1968, to help end a strike among black sanitation public workers. The strike involved a dispute over equal pay for the black and white employees. While in Alabama, he delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech at the Church of God in Christ Church headquarters. In this last speech of his career, he told of a recent bomb threat and talked about the challenges ahead. But he also shared that he was not worried about anything; he was happy because he believed he had seen the Promised Land.
On April 4th, King was standing on the balcony of his Memphis hotel room. Also present were his close friend and colleague Reverend Ralph Abernathy, Jesse Jackson, and Ben Branch. Branch was getting ready that night to go to the scheduled event where he would play. King said, “Ben, make sure you play 'Take My Hand, Precious Lord' in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty." At 6:01 p.m. a gunman’s bullet hit King’s right cheek and traveled down his spinal cord, lodging in his shoulder. After emergency surgery, King was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. at the age of 39. It was two months later when captured, escaped convict James Earl Ray confessed to the assignation. Dr. King was survived by his wife of 15 years, Coretta Scott King, and their four children.
There is so much that can be said about this great man. Books have been written. Movies have been filmed. Speeches have been made. On January 16, 2012, take time to meditate on what peace means in this world of chaos. Think about all that Dr. King stood for, what his influencers – Jesus, Lincoln, Ghandi and others – stood for and stand for peace.
Information gathered from various public accessInternet locations.