Author: Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr., Louisiana Weekly

The civil rights leader and clergyman Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–68) was born in Atlanta, Georgia, to a Baptist minister and his wife, both of whom were involved in the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement. After attending Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, King himself became a pastor and, after a trip to Gandhi’s birthplace in India, became a proponent of nonviolent resistance as a way to promote civil rights for African Americans. In 1957, two years after leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, King joined with other civil rights leaders to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an organization dedicated to organizing nonviolent protests, which he would lead for the rest of his life. On April 4, 1968—one day after delivering his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address, in which he discussed the possibility of not living to see the “promised land”—King was shot and killed in Memphis, Tennessee.

Emancipation Proclamation Centennial Address

Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–68) was a pastor, activist, and leader of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. On September 12, 1962, King gave the following remarks—an early forerunner of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech—as part of the New York Civil War Centennial Commission’s Emancipation Proclamation Observance in New York City.

Eulogy for the Martyred Children

Martin Luther King Jr.

On September 15, 1963, less than three weeks after King delivered his stirring “I Have a Dream” speech before the Lincoln Memorial at the Great March on Washington, four young girls were killed in the bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Three days later, King delivered this eulogy at the funeral service for three of the children—Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair, (age 11) and Cynthia Diane Wesley (age 14).

I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King Jr.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his now legendary, “I Have a Dream” speech, at “The Great March on Washington,” August 28, 1963, in front of the Lincoln Memorial. The march for “jobs and freedom,” organized by a diverse group of civil rights, labor, and religious organizations, drew more than 200,000 people, becoming one of the largest political rallies for human rights in our history.

I’ve Been to the Mountaintop

Martin Luther King Jr.

On the night of April 3, King gave this sermon to a crowd gathered in the Bishop Charles Mason Temple Church of God. He was assassinated the next day. It is eerie to read his remarks, comprising largely a summing up of his life and a prophecy for the future, knowing now that it would be his last public utterance. 

Letter from Birmingham Jail

Martin Luther King Jr.

King wrote this letter on April 16, 1963, in response to “A Call for Unity,” a letter that had been published three days earlier by eight politically moderate white clergymen opposing the tactics of direct action and civil disobedience. King’s incarceration caused local and national consternation, and his release was effected on April 20th by the intervention of President John F. Kennedy.

The American Dream

Martin Luther King Jr.

The present selection is taken from a sermon Martin Luther King Jr. gave at his Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on July 4, 1965, almost two years after he led the March on Washington, which galvanized support for ending legal segregation and passing the Civil Rights Act in 1964. In the sermon, King speaks at length about the Declaration of Independence, whose said-to-be self-evident truths he calls the American dream.

The Power of Nonviolence

Martin Luther King Jr.

After Rosa Parks’ arrest and conviction, in 1955, for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger, the Negro citizens of Montgomery Alabama, under King’s leadership, began a boycott of the city’s buses in order to protest the law requiring racial segregation on public transportation.