Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta over ten years after Nelson Mandela was born in South Africa, and over two years before Desmond Tutu was born.
He is the only African-American person, as well as the only member of the clergy, for whom the United States has designated a national holiday. He was not perfect, but he accomplished a great deal in a short lifetime.
The eldest son of an African-American minister, Martin grew up in a position of relative comfort within a segregated society. The church and the expectations of his family played central roles in his early life. A graduate of Morehouse College, he decided to attend seminary in Pennsylvania and do his doctoral work at Boston University. In graduate school he became familiar with the thinking of Christian theologians including Walter Rauschenbusch and Reinhold Neibuhr, as well as the writing and work of Leo Tolstoy in Russia, Henry David Thoreau, and Mahatma Gandhi in India.
At home in the world of education and ideas, he worked throughout the rest of his life to put his core values into practice, making a meaningful difference.
After completing his education, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. returned to the South at the age of 25 to become the pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Six months after arriving, he was asked to take a leadership role in an effort to change Montgomery’s policy of segregation in public transportation.
Dr. King’s life and accomplishments were shaped by his earliest experiences. His speaking and writing, and his work to bring more justice and reconciliation to American society, grew out of his own personal values and the values of the people he inspired around him.
How has Dr. King’s work changed your life?
How will you celebrate his life and legacy this weekend?
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