Important dates in the short life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

I thought I’d go ahead and re-run my post from last Martin Luther King, Jr Day, especially because of the fact that tomorrow this country will inaugurate it’s first African-American President.  I think Dr King would be so proud…

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I was thinking last night about all the things Martin Luther King, Jr. accomplished in his life, and remembered that his life was cut short at the age of 39. I decided to look for a timeline of Dr. King’s life, and found an amazing wealth of information. Here are some key items I plucked from his lifetime:

1929 – Born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15 to Alberta Williams King and Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr.

1944 – Dr. King attended Booker T. Washington High School and left before graduation due to his acceptance and early admission in Atlanta’s Morehouse College program for advanced placement in the Fall of 1944. He was 15 years of age.

1946 – The U.S. Supreme Court banned segregation in interstate bus travel on June 3.

1947 – “Freedom Riders” made up of an interracial group tested the laws of interstate bus travel in the segregated South, April 9.

1947 – Dr. King decided to become a minister and delivered his first prepared sermon in his father’s church, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, at age 18.

1948 – Dr. King was ordained as a Baptist minister and received his B.A. degree in Sociology from Morehouse College in June at the age of 19.

1951 – Dr. King graduated from Crozer Theological Seminary with his B.D. degree at age 22 in June.

1953 – Dr. King married Coretta Scott on June 18.

1954 – Dr. King became the pastor of Dexter Avenue Church in Montgomery, Alabama on October 31

1955 – Dr. King received his Ph.D in Systematic Theology from Boston University on June 5.

1955 – Emmett Till, age 14, was lynched and brutally defaced in Money, Mississippi on August 28.

1955 – Dr. King became involved in the Rosa Parks incident. As a means of protest the Montgomery Improvement Association was organized, December 4, 1955. Dr. King was elected president. On December 5, 1955, the famous boycott was started. This was the catalytic event which started Dr. King on the road to become America’s crusader and most famous civil rights leader.

1956 – Dr. King’s home was bombed January 30, 1956 – no one was hurt.

1956 – On June 4 the U.S. District Court ruled that racial segregation on the city bus line was unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed this ruling by declaring Alabama’s laws unconstitutional. Montgomery’s victory came on December 21, 1956 when, for the first time, black passengers could legally take any seat on the city’s buses. Public buses were finally desegregated.

1957 – An unexploded bomb was discovered on Dr. King’s front porch on January 27.

1957 – On January 12, mostly concerned ministers, labor leaders, lawyers, and activists got together and formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in an effort to gain information and strategy for ending segregation in their cities and towns. The meeting was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Dr. King was elected president, February 14.

1957 – The Congress of the United States passed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 on September 9. This was the first civil rights legislation since 1875.

1957 – President Eisenhower sent in federal troops to enforce court-ordered integration of Little Rock Arkansas’ schools. Nine black students were escorted into the school by court order on September 24 and 25.

1958 – Dr. King published his book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. He was almost killed by a deranged black woman, who stabbed him as he was autographing his new book in a department store in Harlem, New York, September 20.

1959 – Dr. King published his book, The Measure of a Man.

1960 – Dr. King was arrested for breaking the state of Georgia’s trespassing law while picketing. He was transferred to Reidsville State Prison but was released on $2000 bond on October 19.

1961 – C.O.R.E. (Congress of Racial Equality) tested the newly established interstate desegregation laws. An integrated group of Freedom Riders left Washington, DC on Greyhound buses, and, upon arrival near Anniston, Alabama, the bus was burned, and the riders were beaten, May 4.

1963 – Sit-in demonstrations were held in Birmingham, Alabama to protest public accommodations in eating facilities. Dr. King was arrested during one of the demonstrations, April 12.

1963 – In a moment of reflection, Dr. King, while in his Birmingham cell, wrote about his concerns and criticism on the pace of justice in civil rights for Black Americans. These thoughts were expressed in his moving “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” April 16.

1963 – Governor George Wallace stood in the door of the University of Alabama, refusing the entrance of Black students, June 11.

1963 – Civil Rights Leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi on June 12.

1963 – On August 28, after meeting with President John F. Kennedy, Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd estimated at 250,000.

1963 – The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama became the site of a viscous attack on Sunday, September 15. Four little girls were killed when a bomb exploded inside the church where the children were seated. Dr. King performed a eulogy for three of the girls on September 18.

1963 – President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22.

1964 – Dr. King published his book, Why We Can’t Wait.

1964 – Dr. King was present at the White House while President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Public Accommodation and Fair Employment sections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2.

1964 – Three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were killed on a trip through Philadelphia, Mississippi, August 4.

1964 – On December 10, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

1965 – Malcolm X was assassinated in New York City on February 21.

1965 – The Selma to Montgomery March, which took in over 25,000 marchers, was held from March 21 to 25, with the protection of federal troops. A white civil rights worker, Mrs. Viola Liuzzo was killed driving some of the black marchers back to Selma on March 25.

1965 – The 1965 Voting Rights Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, August 6.

1965 – The Watts Riots erupted in California, August 11 and 12. The National Guard was called in to stop America’s worst single racial disturbance. Thirty-five people died.

1966 – Dr. King came out against our government’s policy in Vietnam May 16.

1966 – Dr. King marched on the issue for open housing in Chicago and was stoned by an angry crowd on August 6.

1967 – Dr. King published his book, Where Do We Go from Here? Chaos or Community?

1967 – Summer riots took the lives of forty-three, including 324 injured in Detroit, Michigan. Twenty-three died and 725 were injured in the Newark, New Jersey riots. Dr. King, Roy Wilkins, and Whitney Young, Jr. came out in an appeal to stop the riots that took place from May 1 through October 1

1968 – Dr. King went to Memphis, Tennessee to lead a march in support of striking sanitation workers, April 3.

1968 – Dr. King delivered his last speech, entitled “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top,” at the Mason Temple, the national headquarters of the Church of God in Christ, in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3.

1968 – On April 4, Dr. King’s life was ended by an assassin’s bullet while he was on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

1968 – Dr. King’s body was viewed by mourners on the campus of Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, April 7. His funeral was eulogized at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta on April 9. He was laid to rest at the South View Cemetery. More than 300,000 people marched through Atlanta with his horse-drawn coffin, April 9.

1986 – A national holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, was established by Congress to honor Dr. King.

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10 thoughts on “Important dates in the short life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  1. Very cool list Zooey. Must have taken a lot of work. Great job! :-)

    It is amazing all he accomplished in his short time on this planet. Where are the really inspirational leaders of our day do you think? Are there any? I tried thinking about that this morning..

  2. Great work Zooey. He accomplished a lot in a very short time.
    When a white American can walk down the street, and, on passing a scowling African American in a black leather jacket, think ‘man that dude is having a bad day’ instead of, man is that dude going to mug me?’, we’ll have come close to realizing Dr. King’s dream.

  3. I think today is the first time many white Americans have paid much attention to MLK day. Most of us don’t even get the day off, and are too busy to notice. I almost forgot that it was a holiday and was about to put out my garbage bin, then I remembered. It is so cool that today we celebrate MLK and tomorrow we celebrate his dream in reality.

    • Very true, House.

      I was just out walking the dog, and noticed that the Whack Job Fundie Christian Church School ™ is in session. Of course, their pastor is on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s watch list.

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