Black History

* Malcolm X



  Elke Moritz

III. Martin Luther King Jr. (15.1.1929 - 4.4.1968)

He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.
Luke 1,52

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind; and to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people.
Luke 4, 18f

1.) His childhood and youth

Born on January 15, 1929 as Michael Luther King in Atlanta, King had the privilege to grow up in a middle-class family. His father was the prominent minister of the Ebenezer Baptist Church at Atlanta's Auburn Avenue, and also a well respected business man, who took an active part in the fight for equal rights and therefore was a member of the local NAACP group as well as the Atlanta Negro Voters League and the Interracial Council for Atlanta. Looking in the future optimistically, he combined protest, accommodation, and self-help, hoping that the black community could reach an end of segregation through non-violence and

self-confidence. But he was also well aware of the fact that the movement toward this aim depended upon the good will of the ruling whites. Daddy King, as he was called by his family, was an example for Martin, who was deeply influenced by his home and his church, which helped him in the white racist society of the South.

In his childhood, Martin experienced racism and segregation in Atlanta, but he never lived in poverty. He was able to get a good education, entering Morehouse College in Atlanta and later Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. There he decided to enter the ministry, being influenced by his scholar Benjamin Mays and his father. The desire to be excellent to show that African-Americans "could make it in the white man's world."13 was always present. In his studies, he was confronted with the values of European culture as well as Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence. After he graduated from Crozer, King went to Boston University. There he met Coretta Scott, who studied music in Boston. Coretta's father had tried hard to establish an own business but had suffered under the treatment of envious whites who even had burned down his house. But the family sent Coretta and her daughter to school to get a good education, and both were able to enter Antioch College in Ohio, which only very few blacks were allowed to attend at that time. Coretta and Martin were married by Daddy King in 1953. After they finished their studies, the couple went to Montgomery, Alabama, were Martin became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, which belonged to an educated black middle-class community. He set up several committees to improve the situation of the African-Americans in Montgomery, and he also continued to work on his dissertation. Like his father he became a "social activist pastor" joining the NAACP and the Alabama Council on Human Relations, and also became very popular in the black community because of his skills.

Back   Two Roads   Next
13.) taken from "Martin & Malcolm & America", p.31