King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929-1968), American Clergyman, One Of The Principal Leaders Of The Civil Rights Movement In The Unit
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King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929-1968), American clergyman, one of the principal leaders of the civil rights movement in the United States and a prominent advocate of nonviolent protest. King's challenges to segregation and racial discrimination helped convince many white Americans to support the cause of civil rights in the United States.
King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and was ordained as a Baptist minister at age 18. He graduated from Morehouse College in 1948 and from Crozer Theological Seminary in 1951. In 1955 he earned a doctoral degree in systematic theology from Boston University. While in Boston, King met Coretta Scott, whom he married in 1953.
In 1954 King accepted his first pastorate at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Montgomery's black community had long-standing grievances about the mistreatment of blacks on city buses. The city's segregation laws forced black riders to sit in the back of buses and give up their seats to white passengers on crowded buses.
In late 1955 Rosa Parks, a leading member of the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was jailed for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger. King soon was selected as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), the organization that directed a bus boycott prompted by Parks's jailing. The Montgomery bus boycott lasted for more than a year. Incidents of violence against black protesters, including the bombing of King's home, focused media attention on the city. A lawsuit filed by an MIA attorney appeared before the Supreme Court of the United States, which upheld a lower court ruling ordering Montgomery's buses to be desegregated. By late 1956 King was a national figure.
In 1957 King helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an organization of black churches and ministers that aimed to challenge racial segregation. King and other SCLC leaders encouraged the use of nonviolent marches, demonstrations, and boycotts to protest discrimination.
In 1963 the SCLC joined a local protest in Birmingham, Alabama, attempting to create so much disorder that local white officials would be forced to end segregation in order to restore normal business relations. King and his SCLC staff escalated antisegregatio
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