Martin Luther King Jr

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I'm going to talk about Martin Luther King Jr. A man who dreamed about a world there all humans, no matter the skin color everyone was worth the same.

I picked Luther King Jr because he was a man that believed in what he did. 

  • Why did he do all he's speeches?
  • How did he become so famous?
  • Why was he murdered?

Martin Luther King- A life that changed the history

The democracy had its beginning for a long time ago in Greece and in the late 20th century people saw persons like Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein like a disease that affected the whole world. U.S.A., "the country of liberty" was one of the countries who pushed the democracy revolution the hardest. They were in Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and many other places, trying to form a better world with democracy as their big leading star. They rose everywhere where justice and equality between human beings were threatened. But not even they were perfect, far from it to be honest.

After the liberty war in the late 1800, between the Yankees and the south, (the Yankees won) the Negroes were given freedom and had all rights reserved for themselves in the future after hundreds of years of slavery. The US said that a new world was born, a world that was better and more equal for both black and white people. Though, one hundred years later the Negroes hadn't the right to sit at even the same park benches as the white and of course they didn't have the right to vote. They were a dirty and a lower standing kind of humans. Exactly like Adolph Hitler himself once so proudly had declared concerning the Jews and soon had the whole world against him.

But one man changed it all. His name was Martin Luther King jr. and he spoke for justice in the powerful name of non-violence. After he had studied Mahatma Ghandi's successful protests in India he came to the knowledge, that in the war between the oppressed and the oppressor, the best weapon they could ever have was not the fist, but the power of non-violence demonstrations. Not only would it change the white person's minds on a political level, it would change it on a personal level too, he said. And he proved to be right. This man made a difference in many people's lives and his dream finally became reality.

Free at last, free at last, Thank God all mighty, we are free at last!

Martin Luther King II- A life that changed the history

"Of course I was a Christian. I grew up in the church. My father is a preacher,
grandpa was a preacher, great-grandpa was a preacher, my only brother is a preacher,
my uncle is a preacher. I didn't have much of a choice"

I hope that you all have heard his name sometime because one of the biggest freedom fighters really deserves to be remembered. He was, as his father, grandfather and great grandfather had been before him, a preacher who spoke of liberty, justice and equality for the Negroes with mighty words.

Martin Luther King jr. was born on the 15th of January, in the year of the big economic depression, 1929. His father Martin Luther King senior worked in a church in Atlanta and was married to Alberta Williams who was a daughter to A D Williams, a preacher in the Ebenezer church. Both parents meant a great deal to Martin during his life and he said that he had a lot to thank them for. The father was a characteristic person who people gave a lot of respect to everyone who had the pleasure to meet him. He didn't like the system that was in the US those days and the way that the Negroes were treated and he often said that it didn't matter how long they had to live with the segregation system, he would never accept it anyway. Once when Martin was a kid he was out with his father in their car when a police stopped them. Martin sr. had accidentally missed a red light and now the policeman pulled him over and leaned in by the window and said:

"- Well little boy, drive in to the roadside and show me your driver licence."
Martin sr. answered directly:
"- I want you to be clear over that it's not a little boy that you are talking to. If you continue to call me a boy, I'll have to behave like if I haven't heard a word of what you've been saying."
The police, who became so chocked over hearing a black man talk to him like that, gave him the order to pay and got out of there as soon as possible.

Of course this put a mark on Martin and the freedom fight that would start many years later began to grow in his mind.

In the late 30's while the rest of the world, especially Europe, prepared for the war that was about to come, (Hitler had the power in Germany and among the Jews, fear for the unknown scary future scattered them)
strict segregation rules kept the Negroes in the back of the busses, out of the "white reserved" park benches, and the official theatres in the US. They weren't allowed to bathe at the big pool areas, nor the official playgrounds or parks, at least not until the YMCA came. Then the black had a place to go to and they weren't so bound any longer to the streets in the ghettos where crimes were committed at least once every night.
If a white entered a buss, he always had the four front seats reserved for himself and if they were taken, the black, who sat at the back seats, had to move and leave the seat to the white and stand. This was law over all of the southern parts of U.S.A. and if the law was broken, a long misery in a segregated jail waited the lawbreaker.
At the age of 8, Martin once went with the bus and he thought to himself;
"One day I will put my body at the front seats where my mind is".


"My calling to become a preacher wasn't something miraculous or supernatural
It was an inner longing that called me to serve the mankind."

When Martin got a bit older he started at the Morehouse college where he studied the big philosophers. He had decided to become a preacher and he said later on that his choice depended on an inner longing to serve the mankind the way that God wanted. It was at the college that he learnt to not be afraid and to discuss the segregation-question; both were abilities that he would use a lot in his life. During this time he also quest ionized the things he had learnt in his protected Christian youth and he got to the knowledge that the world out there was scarier than he had ever thought. After 2 skipped classes it was time to go to the Crozerseminarian to begin his theological examination.



"As a young man with the most of my life in front of me,
I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute.
Not to the small Gods who are here today and gone tomorrow
But to the God that is the same as yesterday, today and all days"

The time at the unsegregated seminarian was a tough time for Martin even though it was fun and interesting. He didn't want to be classed as the normal noisy "nigger" as everyone else thought that he was because of prejudice. Later on he described what he did to not be like that:
"I had a tendency to always dress too well, holding the room shiningly clean and the clothes always new ironed."
All this he did to not fit into the frame that "everyone" had about the Negroes. But one thing happened at the seminarian that changed his way of thinking and that was when he first heard about Mahatma Ghandi and the non-violence principe. He found the satisfaction that he hadn't felt when he read about other thinkers and revolutionaries such as Marx, Socrates, Hegel and Niebuhr and he found the answer to the social segregation-question that he had been looking for so long. It was in the spring 1950. One year later he had an exam as a preacher but he was far from satisfied with his learning.


"My wife has always been stronger than I during the struggle"

The 13th September 1951, King started at the university of Boston to begin his theological doctor degree and it was there that he met his future wife, Coretta Scott. Coretta was a singer and they got to meet through a common friend. She, Mary Powell, knew Coretta because they studied at the same university and after telling Martin about her, she gave him Coretta's phone number and so Martin called her and asked her out.
"After an hour I had made up my mind" "You can do other stuff than singing too? You are intelligent. You are everything I ever have wanted a woman to be. We should get married one day."
And so they did. The wedding was at June the 18th 1953 in Marion Alabama and the reverent was of course Martin Luther King sr. 2 years later she gave birth to their first child, a baby girl, Yolanda Denise, the first of 4 children. According to Martin jr. was Coretta the fundamental driving force behind his strength in difficult situations and without her love he would have fallen many times when it was tough.
She always gave him support in everything he did and she was never satisfied when they were apart and he was out and struggled for equality.
After 21 years in school without any breaks, King finally had his doctor degree in systematic theology and was at last finished. He had the solving on the segregation-question and the answer was in the Non-violence that Ghandi had spoken so much about. He could see a way that could and would change the segregation into integration in the powerful name of love and peace. Now it was time to begin his first work in the baptism church at Dexter avenue in Montgomery, Alabama and so they moved to the segregated south to begin the struggle for integration.
A Sunday in May 1954, Martin Luther King held his first conduct in the church at Dexter Avenue and at the same year he joined the NAACP, a national association that worked for integration in the South.
The first of December was an important date in the history of segregation. Rosa Parks, an elder woman had had enough and decided to sit down in the front seats and when the driver asked her to move to the back she didn't listen and was later on arrested and put in jail for this and so the buss demonstration began and MIA (Montgomery Improvement association) was founded with Martin Luther King as its leader.


"Don't take the bus to the work, the city, the school or anywhere else on Monday the 5th December.
Another woman has been arrested because of that she didn't want to leave her place in the bus. Don't take the bus to the work, the city, the school or anywhere else on Monday! If you work, then take a cab, go with someone else or walk. Come to the church at Holt street on a mass meeting for further instructions."

This hand bill was given to every black citizen in Montgomery and when the Monday arrived in its glory then only about 8 black passages went with the bus. The white in the city thought that this was something that wouldn't hold for long but when week after week passed by without any sign on that it would get any better then they started to despair. But the boycott just continued without any mercy and threatened to put the bus companies in bankruptcy. The method was very effective in many ways but it had its price. King was during this time put in jail under false circumstances and his home was bombed by Ku Klux Klan plus that he almost every night got threatened by men who called and said that they would kill him and his family. Even though this happened, Martin still encouraged everyone to remain peaceful even though they were upset and they listened so the peaceful war continued. But the 13 November came the big breakthrough when the court of U.S.A. declared the laws illegal and the almost one year long boycott was finally over. With the help from people who drove certain days a week and gave the people who were going to the work a lift, the integration in Montgomery was now a fact and for the rest of the coloured U.S.A., this fact meant more than you can imagine. This was the beginning to the end of the segregation. But as Martin said after he had got the court decision:
"We can not take this as a victory over the white, but as a victory for justice and democracy"


If they hit you, then don't strike back. If they shoot against you, don't fire back.
If they curse you, don't curse back.
But just walk on.
Some of us maybe have to die before we get there. Some of us maybe will be put in jail before we get there,
But just walk on


The success in Montgomery was historical in the fact that it was the first time that the non-violence principe was used in a social fight. The effect that proved to be very effective opened the opponents' morale defence and slowed down his fighting spirit. It also gave the Negroes a method to safe their morale goals with morale means. It was a powerful force where the people could canalize their displeasure.
The 14th February 1957 King was chosen to become the leader of SLC, later on SCLC (Southern Leaders Conference and later on Southern Christian Leaders Conference.) The struggle for integration was about to develop into something very big and at the 17th May a big march took its place in Washington with the name Prayer Pilgrim for Freedom. Many people joined the demonstration and the inspiration was picked from the 250 mile long protest between Anniabad to Bambi that Ghandi had done. When he started he had 8 persons following him but after a while the number grew to millions million. Ghandi could mobilise and enthusiast more people than anybody else in the whole world history ever have done before. With just a little love and an understanding good-will, Ghandi broke the neck on the British Empire and gave more than 390 million people liberty without any violence.
In the march Martin Luther King began the struggle to his next goal, the right to vote. They had realised that the new law about the segregation was meaningless if they weren't able to vote so a new campaign started with the goal to make the Negroes be able to use their legally given rights.
This question became the most important ever but after Martin had been released from jail he was at the 20th September stabbed by a woman, Izola Ware Curry, in Harlem where he signed books and had to lie at the hospital with almost deadly damages. The knife lied only a few millimetres from the big aorta and if he had coughed only one time he would have been drained in his own blood.
Even though this had happened he remained calm and about a month later he returned to Montgomery to continue the struggle.
In 1959 King went to India to meet all the people that had circled around Mahatma Ghandi and he had always wanted to see the land where he had lived. He also travelled to Jerusalem and Cairo and about a month after his arrival to India he was home again more convinced than ever that non-violence was the only way.



"The way of submission leads to a morale and spiritual suicide,
The way of violence leads to bitterness within the survivor and brutality within the destroyer
But the way of non-violence leads to something better and to the creation of a society with love"

The 1st February 1960 King and his family moved to Atlanta to be able to be closer to the segregation and to get a clearer view over what was happening in the South states. The same day the so called sit-protests were started in Greensborough in North Carolina because of the black demanded the right to be able to buy food at the lunch-bars. A large amount of the ones who was engaged in the sit-protests were students and teenagers. They saw that it was time to make a difference and when King asked them to involve even more they all did so and afterwards King declared that the smartest thing they ever could have done was to involve the teenagers and students.

The same year another big breakthrough for the integration happened. King who had been arrested and put in jail for tax cheating was being freed by a completely white jury in Montgomery and another step was taken in the right way.

During the same time he also met the senator John F. Kennedy who ran for president and also won with a big support from black voters.
A while later they also got another victory when the court declared that the segregation at the lunch-bars and other public places was illegal and an integration was about to come within 90 days after the proclamation had been signed. Birmingham was also after big demonstrations and brutality freed the same way and the brutal sheriff Eugene "the bull" Connor and his stab got fired from his work and a new day had come in one of the most segregated towns in U.S.A. This happened in 1961-62.
1963 was one of the most terrible and famous years in the history of America but it was also a year where another big march with a big meaning happened. In this year also a very big cry for freedom rang all over the US and Martin Luther held his famous "I have a dream" speech in Washington D.C. in front of about a half million listeners. That cry that began in Birmingham opened the eyes on millions of white Americans and the "Great Debate" about the civil right to vote was again in the highlight.


Martin Luther King jr. I have a dream speech

I Have a Dream - Address at March on Washington
August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.
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. [Applause]
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation´s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of colour are concerned. Instead of honouring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God´s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand's of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro´s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquillity in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvellous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro´s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
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."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor´s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God´s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, ´tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim´s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
When we let 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!"
"We were strong because we were so many and spoke for so many more.
We were proud because we knew that our struggle was righteous
We weren't angry but we had a yearning- a passion for freedom"

And they became free at last and got their right to vote 2 years later under the leading of president Lyndon B. Johnson who had ta...

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Källhänvisning Lisa Granath, 2005-03-31, Martin Luther King jr - A life that changed history

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Inactive member [2008-09-25]   Martin Luther King Jr
Mimers Brunn [Online]. [2023-01-29]

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