Home > Sample essays > The Life and Activism of Martin Luther King Jr.

Essay: The Life and Activism of Martin Luther King Jr.

Essay details and download:

  • Subject area(s): Sample essays
  • Reading time: 5 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published: 1 January 1970*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 1,275 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 6 (approx)
  • Tags: Martin Luther King Essays

Text preview of this essay:

This page of the essay has 1,275 words. Download the full version above.



Parents: Michael Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams (married November 25, 1926)

MLK Born: January 15, 1929 at 501 Auburn Avenue in Atlanta

He was born around the start of the Great Depression. At five years old, he questioned his parents about the numerous people standing in breadlines. This had an impact on his future anti capitalistic feelings.

Church: Ebenezer Baptist (on Auburn Avenue) –                                                 became co-pastor, office in Southern Christian                               Leadership Conference

Schools: Atlanta’s public schools, Atlanta University                                               Laboratory High School (two years),  and then Booker T. Washington High School

Community: Regular social status and average income, wealthy African Americans  were known as “Hunter Hills”, deeply religious neighbors, almost no crime

Family: Congenial, thought of “a God of love” because lovely relationships were present, lead toward optimism more than pessimism about human nature

1954-Became pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama

December 1955- Montgomery’s black leaders (Jo Ann Robinson, E.D. Nixon, and Ralph Abernathy) protest the arrest of NAACP official Rosa Parks for refusing to give up her seat to a white man, King was selected to head the new group

King utilized religious background and academic training to forge a protest strategy that involved mobilization of black churches and appeals for white support.

Became an advocate of Mohandas Gandhi’s nonviolence precepts,  and King combined with Christian social gospel ideas

Expansion in the South: (joined C. K. Steele, Fred Shuttlesworth, T. J. Jemison) King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, worked as president and wrote his first book “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story”

1958-Victim of first assassination attempt, signing copies of Stride toward Freedom angered Izola Ware Curry, Curry stabbed him with a letter opener

SCLC sought to frame the struggle for civil rights in moral terms.

1957-First major campaign: Crusade for Citizenship-Registered and educated thousands of prospective and disenfranchised voters in time for the 1958 and 1960 elections

“Their chances for improvement rest on their ability to vote” (SCLC, August 9, 1957).

Protest Campaigns: Albany, Georgia, Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, and St. Augustine, Florida

November 17, 1961-Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People conducted a movement that challenged all forms of segregation and discrimination. SCLC temporarily joined, and attracted the national publicity to Albany.

Successful in mobilizing massive protests during December 1961 and the following summer, it secured few concrete gains.

November 1-Interstate Commerce Commision ban of racial segregation in interstate bus terminals went into effect. Nine students from Albany State College conducted a sit-in at the bus terminal. Focused on violating travel facilities, forming a permanent biracial committee, and the release of those jailed in segregation protests

Nonviolent methods: mass demonstrations, jail-ins, sit-ins, boycotts, and litigations

July 10, 1962-King and Ralph Abernathy paraded without a permit in December 1961. They were ordered to pay $178 or serve 45 days in jail. They chose to serve time in jail, and that increased arrests. An unidentified black man bailed them out.

April 2- King spoke about the philosophy of nonviolence and its methods. He asked for volunteers at the end of the mass meetings, and African Americans joined into kneel-ins at churches, sit-ins an the library, and a march on the county building to register voters. Hundreds of people were arrested.

April 3, 1963-SCLC joined with the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights in a direct action campaign to put pressure on Birmingham’s merchants during the Easter season (second biggest shopping season of the year).

April 10-Campaign leaders disobeyed court orders. King exclaimed “We cannot in all good conscience obey such an injunction which is an unjust, undemocratic and unconstitutional misuse of the legal process” (ACMHR, April 11, 1963).

April 12 (Good Friday)-King was arrested in Birmingham after his violation of the anti-protest injunction. He wrote the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” which he explained is reaction to a statement published in the Birmingham News about eight Birmingham clergymen criticizing the protests.

May 10-Shuttlesworth and Abernathy wrote the                                          “Birmingham Truce Agreement” so “Whites Only” and                                                 “Blacks Only” signs in restrooms and drinking                                                                          fountains would be removed.

August 28, 1963-More than 200,000 people came to the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. John F. Kennedy initiated a strong federal civil rights bill in Congress. This is also when King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Civil rights demonstrators assembled a Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom on the third anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education at the Lincoln Memorial in May 1957.

After giving his speech, King commented that “as television beamed the image of this extraordinary gathering across the border oceans, everyone who believe in man’s capacity to better himself had a moment of inspiration and confidence in the future of the human race” and also said the march had an “appropriate climax” to the summer’s events (King, “I Have a Dream”).

March 25, 1965-MLK led thousands of demonstrators to Montgomery after a 5-day and 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Southern Christian Leadership Conference campaigned for voting rights.

January 2, 1965-The SCLC and SNCC joined the Dallas County Voters League and other African American activists in a voting rights campaign in Selma where only two percent were on the voting rolls after repeated registration attempts by local blacks.

February 18-The church deacon from Marion, Jimmie Lee Jackson (26), was shot by a state trooper. Jackson tried to protect his mother from the trooper’s nightstick.

March 7, 1965-King spoke in a bombardment of telegrams and public statements. He wanted religious leaders to join a peaceful, nonviolent march for freedom.

The Federal Court said the march should not go on until March 11 to ensure protection for the marchers.

King disobeyed the court order and lead 2,000 marchers on March 9 to the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

August 6-President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the presence of King and other civil rights leaders: “the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men” (Johnson, “Remarks”) was the outbreak of Selma.

April 4, 1967-MLK delivers a speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam” in front of 3,000 people at the Riverside Church in New York. King wanted to stop all bombing of North and South Vietnam, an independent truce that would lead to peace talks, the removal of all Vietnamese troops, and to give the National Liberation Front a role in negotiations.

King believed money and attention were being disturbed during the Vietnam War: “The was was doing far more than devastating the hopes of                                             the poor at home…We were taking the black young men who              April 4, 1967-MLK delivers a speech entitled “Beyond Vietnam” in front of 3,000 people at the Riverside Church in New York. King wanted to stop all bombing of North and South Vietnam, an independent truce that would lead to peace talks, the removal of all Vietnamese troops, and to give the National Liberation Front a role in negotiations.

King believed money and attention were being disturbed during the Vietnam War: “The was was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home…We were taking the black young man                                                                                         had been crippled by or society and sending them eight                                              thousand miles away to guarantee liberties which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and                                                                                 East Harlem” (King, 1967).

April 4, 1968-King came to Memphis to support striking garbage collectors and prove he can lead a peaceful protest march to show progress can be made outside the South and middle class.

The night before, King gives his  eulogy at a strike rally: “I may not get there with you.”

6 p.m.-King is shot to death on a motel balcony.

Major witnesses: Ralph Abernathy, Andrew Young,                                                                  and Jesse Jackson (along with Clara Ester)

...(download the rest of the essay above)

About this essay:

If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

Essay Sauce, The Life and Activism of Martin Luther King Jr.. Available from:<https://www.essaysauce.com/sample-essays/2018-6-7-1528383095/> [Accessed 02-10-23].

These Sample essays have been submitted to us by students in order to help you with your studies.

* This essay may have been previously published on Essay.uk.com at an earlier date.