I titled this blog “Dr. MLK Jr.” because I thought it was a cute acronym and easy way of addressing him the many times throughout this blog without having to type out his full surname every time. We all know of Dr. MLK Jr., we colored in worksheets about him in elementary school, did book reports on him in middle school, and watched movies about him in high school (gotta love Nevada education) but do we really have a grasp for the man, his actions, and his effects on society today?
I think for the most part, people of all walks of life can see that without him there would have been a serious setback in our diversified culture. Not to say that we are perfectly civil in America but we are heading in the right direction and have been due to his actions and passion to have equal rights for all Americans. Black or white, male or female, young or old. Dr. MLK Jr. “had a dream” and I wouldn’t say that everything he had in mind has been accomplished, I would say that we haven’t woke up from the dream yet.
Dr. MLK Jr. was born in ATL, Georgia (what do we fo ya) on 1/15/1929 and given the name Michael after his father. After a family vacation to Germany, Sr. would later change both their names to “Martin” after the German Protestant leader, Martin Luther. Atlanta was the capital of the Bible belt during his era as Dr. MLK Jr. and his older sister and younger brother were brought up traditional Southern Baptist singing in the church choir.
“Thanks for showin me around Shawty”! Hahahaha. Anyway, Dr. MLK Jr. was somewhat of childhood prodigy foregoing his high school diploma as he dropped out off high school and went straight to the pros (Morehouse College) where he graduated with a degree in Sociology and would go on to get his Bachelors of Divinity and then Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University. Which he was later found to have plagiarized his dissertation from but hey, I’m plagiarizing from Wikipedia right now, so who am I to judge?
In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat for a white dude, which at the time was in violation of Jim Crowe Laws. Not only did the Montgomery Bus Boycott spur one of the greatest songs ever but also sparked a fire with Southern Black leaders. With the help of others, Dr. MLK Jr. led a boycott lasting over a year as it came to and abrupt end with his arrest. In 1957 he joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to lead their nonviolent protests for civil rights reform. During a march he was stabbed and barely escaped death by a deranged black woman with a letter opener, who supposedly was related to this woman…
“I ain’t gon need no phone.” Drugs are bad kids. It was in 1963 that Dr. MLK Jr. led many different civil rights groups on their march in Washington D.C. to bring attention on a national stage about the condition of which black people were treated in the South. It was here, where Dr. MLK Jr. would go on to give his world renown speech “I Have a Dream. ” This speech brought civil rights to a level of necessary political agenda and inspired people around the country to stand up for black rights.
Over the next few years, Dr. MLK Jr. and other civil rights groups would pick up steam by not only changing minds but legislation as well. Issues of segregation, opposition of the Vietnam War, among many others had made a lot of headway that would not have been possible without Dr. MLK Jr. However, it was unfortunately cut short on 4/4/1968 when Dr. MLK Jr. was assassinated outside his regular suite’s balcony. His last words were to musician, Ben Branch, “”Ben, make sure you play “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.”
Dr. MLK Jr. was under FBI protection and surveillance who were posted at the Fire station across from his hotel, which have led to conspiracy theories that the FBI was involved in the assassination of Dr. MLK Jr. much like JFK by James Earl Ray, who supposedly escaped jail for the assassination to take place. He was caught 2 months later trying to board a flight to England. He was extradited back to Tennessee where he was to stand trial for the murder of Dr. MLK Jr. Ray confessed to the murder under alleged death penalty pressure. In 1977, Dexter King, (Dr. MLK Jr.’s son) supported Ray’s actions of trying to maintain a trial.
Dr. MLK Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and over 50 honorary degrees from different universities. in 1984, my man, President Ronald Regan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor King. Observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, it is called Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Following President George H. W. Bush’s 1992 proclamation, the holiday is observed on the third Monday of January each year, around the time of King’s birthday. On January 17, 2000, for the first time, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in all fifty U.S. states. I know, I was surprised to hear that also.
“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”