His Dream? Equality for All. ; Martin Luther King Jr. Was a Champion of Civil Rights, but He Faced Challenges and Dangers

By Huang, Carol | The Christian Science Monitor, January 9, 2007 | Go to article overview

His Dream? Equality for All. ; Martin Luther King Jr. Was a Champion of Civil Rights, but He Faced Challenges and Dangers


Huang, Carol, The Christian Science Monitor


What do you know about the man whose life is celebrated with a holiday next Monday? Martin Luther King Jr. greatly influenced the United States because he gave the civil rights movement a powerful voice. His use of nonviolent protest and dramatic oratory grabbed America's attention and convinced many people to strive for the end of segregation (keeping black and white people separate academically, socially, and so forth).

Born Jan. 15, 1929, he came from a long line of religiously motivated activists who also changed the societies in which they lived.

His father and grandfather both served as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, a prominent African-American church in Atlanta, and held leadership positions in the city's chapter of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), a civil rights organization.

The name he was given at birth - Michael - was changed when he was 5 years old. (The original Martin Luther was a 16th- century German priest and reformer whose protests sparked the historic Protestant Reformation.)

Before coming into his national pulpit, King went to school: four years at Morehouse College in Atlanta; three at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pa.; and five at Boston University's School of Theology. The 12 years of study helped form his beliefs and influence his views on civil disobedience and racial justice.

By the time he finished his Ph.D, in 1955, King had married Coretta Scott and accepted a job as minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.

In December of that year, Rosa Parks famously defied Alabama's bus segregation laws by refusing to give up her seat to a white man. That incident drew King into his first widely publicized civil rights campaign. He helped organize a bus boycott that lasted more than a year, until the US Supreme Court declared Alabama's bus rules unconstitutional.

In 1957, King and other black ministers formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to coordinate civil rights activities in the region. He became its president. King delivered his first national address that year; many more followed.

Fighting with nonviolence

In 1960, King moved back to Atlanta. Working alongside his father at Ebenezer Church, King saw social activism as an outgrowth of his ministry: Freedom and equality were part of God's plan. Avoiding violence to achieve this goal, he believed, demonstrated Christian love.

King also believed that nonviolence would win people's support, rather than alienate them. And he thought that large gatherings and grand rhetoric, broadcast across the country, would force people to confront the injustice - and respond to it.

King's leadership role brought many challenges and even dangers. Opponents bombed his home. He was arrested several times. In April 1963, King spent a week in a Birmingham, Ala., jail for disobeying a court order against protest marches. After his release, he continued to mobilize demonstrators. When Police Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor authorized the police to use dogs and hoses against protesters, the brutal images spread across the country. These galvanized support for the civil rights movement.

His years of protest culminated in a momentous March on Washington in August 1963. More than 200,000 people gathered in the nation's capital, where King delivered a passionate cry for the country to practice the equality promised in its founding documents. In bold rhetoric, he shared his vision of a harmonious community, where "all of God's children - black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants - will be able to join hands and to sing ... 'Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last.' "

This became known as the "I Have a Dream" speech. It propelled him to the height of his activism and broke major ground for the cause. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

His Dream? Equality for All. ; Martin Luther King Jr. Was a Champion of Civil Rights, but He Faced Challenges and Dangers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.