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Learn About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Did you know that Martin Luther King's name when he was born was not Martin? It was, in fact, "Michael King Jr." The reason his name was changed was that his father, who was also a pastor, took a trip to Germany and became motivated and inspired by Martin Luther, who was a reformation leader, and decided to name his son accordingly. Michael was five at the time of the name change.

Perhaps, his father knew something we didn't know and understood his son would lead a movement that would become much bigger than who he was at that very moment. Martin Luther King is one of the most influential and known names when it comes to African Americans that contributed and had an impact on the Civil Rights Movement.

As we celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday and recognize Martin Luther King Day, it seems only fitting that we fill you in on the life and impact that he has had on the world since his death on April 4, 1968. Before we discuss his Civil Rights contribution, it's essential to understand the extent of Dr. King's brilliance.

Early Life

He entered college at 15 because he was able to skip grades 9 and 12 due to his intelligence. He completed college with an undergrad degree in Sociology, and it was also around this time that he became an ordained minister. Not only did he receive a degree in Sociology, but also one in Theological Seminary.

After completing both of these, Dr. King pursued and achieved a doctoral degree in Systematic Theology in 1955. As he finished his Ph.D., he began acting as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, which lasted from the 1950s through the 1960s. Dr. King was focused on fighting for the equality of African Americans in the form of nonviolent protest.

Dr. King Had a Dream

He was most known for the "I Have a Dream" speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. He spoke about the "American Dream" and how one day he would see equality for all people to come together and take part in that dream. An excerpt from his speech reads:

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
Dr. King’s Legacy

Dr. King showed great poise and grace as he fought for equality and advancement, even though that would see him imprisoned more than 30 times throughout the movement. As he continued to preach about the importance of standing for what you believe in with love, eventually the marches, boycotts, and protests he organized and participated in became effective.

Dr. King's legacy proceeds him, and it's known that he was significantly supported by his wife, Coretta Scott King, whom he married on June 18, 1953. Together, they would have four children that would continue to speak on the impact their late father has had on the world, especially in the lives of African Americans.

In their own rights, they've continued to spread their father's message in various ways. As we continue to celebrate Dr. King and his impact, don't forget to explore these resources on and use them in your classrooms and at home.

We can't wait for you to check out our upcoming blogs for this year.


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