Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Example and Tips

martin luther king jr essay example


Next year will be the 90 year anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, a Baptist priest, speaker, and the greatest and brightest fighter for the rights of black people in the United States. The history of his life is inspiring and teaches us to fight for our rights and freedoms.

Martin Luther King was born January 15, 1929 in the city of Atlanta (southern Georgia) in the family of a priest of the Baptist church. Despite the fact that it was the time when the Great Depression began in America, which led to the fact that 65% of the colored population of Atlanta was forced to receive unemployment benefits, economic difficulties did not affect the fully-provided, bourgeois family of the priest. Martin spent his childhood quite comfortably.

The profession of King Sr. largely determined the life of his son. From a young age, Martin attended church that was closer than the school and where his father served as an assistant pastor. The boy passionately and enthusiastically sang the psalms, impressing the parishioners, who invited him to religious meetings specially for this reason.

The first clash with the injustice of racism occurred in six years, when Martin went to school. Among his friends, there were two white friends who, although they lived on the opposite side of the street, they began to go to another educational institution. King Jr. did not pay attention to it and resorted to friends, but their mother began to send him back. In the end, she told him straight out that blacks and whites should not play together. The boy complained to his mother, and she – for the first time – explained to him about the system of racial relationships that have developed in America. That moment may be considered the date of birth of Martin Luther King Jr. as we know and remember him.


At school, Martin studied well. He passed examinations for the 9th and 12th grades externally and at the age of fifteen, in 1944, was enrolled in the Morhaus College, of which King Senior was a member of the board of trustees. For a teenager, the profession of a priest was not attractive and the study of theology did not seem to him to be valuable; he chose between medicine or jurisprudence.

Later – already closer to the end of his studies in college – he realized that it would be difficult for him to leave the priest’s field, and began to feel his calling. In addition, his choice was influenced by college teachers. They began to convince him that the speeches of a real Christian preacher give food for the mind and raise serious public problems. Martin realized that the pastor should be intellectually developed, and his service should be dedicated not to the search for otherworldly spiritual shelter, but to the momentary struggle between good and evil.

In 1948, Martin Luther King was accepted into the Crozer Theological Seminary. The study in it was marked for King Jr. by spiritual searches. A special impression was made on him by the lecture of Dr. Mordecai Johnson. He traveled across America with a story about the activities and philosophy of the great Indian politician, a follower of the idea of ​​non-resistance to evil by the violence of Mahatma Gandhi. Up to this point, King treated a great Indian with a great deal of skepticism – as an idealist, far from life. After listening to Johnson’s lecture, he changed his mind and began to read books about Gandhi. An example of a fighter for India’s independence from Britain will greatly affect King’s political activities.



In 1951, Martin became a bachelor of theology, and he was instructed to read a graduation speech. In addition, he received a scholarship of $ 1,200, which allowed him to finish his studies at any university in the country. In Atlanta, the father and friends persuaded him to become a preacher at last, but he insisted on his own and chose Boston University.

This period of life was associated not only with academic activities. Once he asked his girlfriend Mary Powell to introduce him to a girl from the south of the US, because he considered the Boston girls to be prim. Powell proposed two candidates, one of which he already knew. The second one was Coretta Scott, she studied at the conservatory. Their acquaintance immediately grew into a relationship. Coretta Scott pondered for a long time whether to marry him or not, because the marriage – especially to the priest – should, as she guessed, put in the end to her future career as a singer. However, she agreed; in 1953, the wedding took place.



When Martin Luther graduated from Boston University, the couple moved to Montgomery City, Alabama. King was appointed to be a pastor of the church, which was opposite the local Capitol. Its parishioners – about 300 people – belonged to the elite of the black population of the city, which concentrated a tremendous amount of power in the priest’s hands.

Martin Luther began a stormy activity – in particular, he created committees to help the poor and support graduates of high school. In addition, he joined the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored Population (NAACP), a large public organization of the United States, which to this day is fighting for the civil rights of the black population.

In 1955, King was the first to witness and direct the organization of the protest action. It was associated with an ordinary case for America of that time – a bus conflict: sitting black had to give way to white; some blacks refused to comply with this requirement. On December 1, 1955 seamstress Rosa Parks got on the bus after work and took seats after the first row, which was reserved for whites. In the salon at the stop came the white passengers, and the driver demanded that black – in particular Parks – gave way to the entered. Three black men hearing the demands rose from their seats, but Parks – her legs ached with fatigue – refused. The driver called a policeman who drove the “offender” to the site, compiled a record, released her on bail, and ordered to appear in court four days later.

Rosa addressed the leader of the NAACP in Alabama – Nixon. Having an idea of ​​Gandhi’s non-violent protest, he came up with the idea of ​​a “bus boycott”. Nixon told this idea to his wife, who advised him to stop fantasizing. Nevertheless, the bus protest found the support of many residents of the city. The leader of the NAACP in Alabama telephoned King, who agreed to help. On the day of the boycott, Corette called her husband and pointed to a bus passing by their house – it was empty. The second one, too. Martin Luther got into the car and began to drive around the city, examining buses. He counted only eight black passengers – at a time when transport was usually packed full of them.



January 24, 1960 ended the term of the Reverend King in Montgomery, and he decided to move to a small homeland, in Atlanta. Same year, “sedentary demonstrations” began. The first of them were arranged by black students who were denied service. They came to public places – for example, to buffets – and sat for a long time in them. The more people were involved in these actions, the more opposition was provoked – in the end the police began arrests, which increased the protest movement.

Martin Luther was offered to organize a conference of activists of “sitting demonstrators”. He elected fifteen board members, who were to form a “permanent organization” of sedentary protesters. Meanwhile, the movements acquired a massive character, and defenders of white supremacy decided to discredit the very symbol of the protest movement – King. On February 17, two assistant sheriffs appeared in the Atlanta church and handed to King an arrest warrant for falsifying tax returns. The case was examined by a jury, who delivered an acquittal on 28 May.

In March-April 1963, King led mass demonstrations in Birmingham (Alabama). The demonstrators were dispersed, and King – for violating the ban on the demonstration – was arrested for five days. Sitting under arrest, he wrote a “Letter from the Birmingham Prison” in response to reproaches for unreasonable and untimely actions. In it, Martin Luther expressed his philosophy concerning both God and social life – in particular, he argued, progress is in no way connected with inevitability, but is a consequence of the tireless efforts of people who are creating God’s will.


Particularly notable was the speech of Martin Luther King “I have a dream”, which he made during a march in Washington in 1963 at the foot of the Lincoln Monument at a time when the US Congress was discussing civil rights legislation. It was a day of triumph of Martin Luther King. He was seen on television and heard on the radio by tens of millions of Americans and millions of Europeans. “I have a dream that one day this nation will straighten up and live according to the true meaning of its principle:” We consider it self-evident that all people are created equal. “I have a dream that once on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and sons former slave owners will be able to sit together at the fraternal table. <…> I dream today!” Proclaimed King. In 1963, the magazine Time called him the man of the year.

In May 1964, King participated in demonstrations for the integration of housing stock, held in St. Augustine, Florida. A month later, President Lyndon B. Johnson invited him to the White House, where King was present at the signing of the housing bill, which became part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law prohibited segregation in public places and in production, in conditions of labor and wages.

At the end of the same year, Martin Luther was awarded the Nobel Prize. In his speech, he once again expressed the principle of non-resistance to evil by violence. “The movement does not want to liberate the Negroes by humiliating and enslaving the Whites, it does not want victory over anyone, it wants the liberation of American society and participation in the self-liberation of the entire people,” he said.


In the last years of his life, King’s attention was drawn not only to racism, but also to the problem of unemployment, hunger and poverty throughout America. Expansion of the horizon necessitated the support of radical circles of Negro youth during the riots in the ghettoes of Watts, Newark, Harlem and Detroit, which contradicted the principles of nonviolence. King became aware that racial discrimination is closely related to poverty. But he did not have time to create the program on this issue, which explains the failure of efforts to improve the living conditions in the slums of Chicago in 1966. However, in November 1967, King announced the beginning of the Campaign of Poor People, which was due to end in April 1968, the collection of whites and the black poor in Washington.

March 28, 1968 King led a protest march in Memphis, Tennessee. His goal was to support striking workers. On April 3, Martin Luther delivered a strong speech. “We have tough days ahead of us, but it does not matter, because I visited the top of the mountain, I looked forward and saw the promised land, maybe I will not reach it with you, but I want you to know that we – people – we will reach it. ” The next day he stood on the balcony in the Memphis hotel and was shot by a sniper. His murderer, James Earl Ray, was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Officially, it was recognized that he was a single killer, but there is still debate that King was killed as a result of the conspiracy.

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