Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’ would have turned 91 years old. And even after 52 years of his death, his words resonate more than ever. In this second chapter of his life, we focus on how he grew up to become the icon that he was.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspirational speeches played a crucial role in terminating the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the United States. His activism was also critical for the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Being raised in Atlanta, Georgia, King entered public school at age five. In May 1936 he was baptized, but the event made little impression on him.
King attended Booker T. Washington High School, where he skipped both the ninth and eleventh grades, and entered Morehouse College in Atlanta at age 15, in 1944.
Although his family was deeply involved in the church and worship, King wasn’t 100% sure about his faith. It was only in his junior year, that King took a Bible class, renewed his faith and began a career in the ministry.
In 1948, King earned a degree in sociology from Morehouse College and attended the liberal Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. He succeeded in all his studies and was elected student body president, which offered him the chance of a fellowship for graduate study.
But King rebelled. He rebelled against his father’s influence and started drinking while at college. He became involved with a white woman, which brought more problems to himself. Eventually, he could break off the affair.
During his last year in seminary, King came under the influence of Morehouse College President Benjamin E. Mays, who deeply influenced King’s spiritual journey. Mays was an outspoken leader for racial equality and encouraged King to see religion as a serious force for social change that they needed. After being accepted at several colleges for his doctoral study, King finally enrolled at Boston University.
During this time, King met Coretta Scott, an aspiring singer at the New England Conservatory school in Boston. They were married in June 1953 and had four children, Yolanda, Martin Luther King III, Dexter Scott, and Bernice.
In 1954 King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church of Montgomery, Alabama. He completed his Ph.D. and earned his degree in 1955. At this time, King was only 25 years old.
Stay tuned for the next chapter, on how Dr. King started his journey.