Benjamin Elijah Mays was an American Baptist minister and civil rights leader, credited with laying the intellectual foundations of the Civil Rights Movement. Mays taught and mentored many influential activists: Martin Luther King Jr, Julian Bond, Maynard Jackson, Donn Clendenon, among others, his rhetoric and intellectual work focused on notions of nonviolence and civil resistance–beliefs inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. The peak of his public influence occurred during his thirty years as the 6th President of Morehouse College, a black institution of higher learning. Mays was born in the Jim Crow South on a repurposed cotton plantation to freed sharecroppers, he traveled North to attend Bates College and the University of Chicago from where he began his career in activism as a pastor in the Shiloh Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. After a brief career as a professor, he was appointed as the Dean of the School of Religion at Howard University in 1934 which elevated him to national prominence as a proponent of the New Negro movement.
Six years Mays was elected as the president of Morehouse College, an at-the-time financially unstable enterprise. Over his tenure from 1940 to 1967, the college's financial endowment was doubled and enrollment quadrupled. Due to the relative smallness of the college, Mays mentored and taught many students, most notably King, his connection with King spanned his early days at the college in 1944. King was known as Mays' "spiritual son" and Mays his "intellectual father." After King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, Mays gave the benediction. Upon the 1968 death of King, he was asked to give the eulogy where he described him in his "No Man is Ahead of His Time" speech. Mays stepped down from the presidency in 1967 continuing to work as a leader in the African American community, he presided over the Atlanta Board of Education from 1969 to 1978, where he initiated the desegregation of Atlanta. Mays' contributions to the civil rights movement have had him hailed as the "movement's intellectual conscience" or alternatively the "Dean of the Movement".
Historian Lawrence Carter described Mays as "one of the most significant figures in American history". Hundreds of streets, statues, scholarships and fellowships are named in his honor. Numerous efforts have been brought forward to posthumously award Mays the Presidential Medal of Freedom as well as feature him on a U. S. postage stamp. Benjamin Elijah Mays was born on August 1, 1894 in Epworth, South Carolina, in the small town of Ninety Six, South Carolina, the youngest of eight children, his mother, Louvenia Carter Mays, father, Hezekiah Mays, were born into slavery on Virginia and South Carolina plantations, respectively. Both were freed in their lives with the passage of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Mays' father hit him, his siblings and Louvenia growing up, expressing anger about how he was treated by his master; the "Mays" family name was derived from owner's name, Henry Hazel Mays. Hezekiah worked as a cotton sharecropper to generate income for his family. Mays was told to exhibit black pride whenever possible growing up.
Mays' older sister, began to teach him how to read before his formal schooling commenced, which gave him a year's growth in reading compared to the other students in his primary schools. School officials cited him as "destined for greatness." Growing up, he went by the nickname "Bennie" and was inspired by Fredrick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Thomas E. Miller; the Bible was influential to young Mays because he could see his name mentioned instilling a feeling of empowerment within. During this time, Benjamin Tillman rose to power in South Carolina which saw to the redoubling of lynching and segregation in Mays' neighborhood. Throughout his tenure as governor, 18 black men were lynched and dozens were hurt in the 1876 shoot-off. On November 8, 1898, members of the Phoenix Riot–a white suprematist mob–rode up on horses to the Mays household, a repurposed cotton plantation, they told him to remove his hat and bow down to them. The event would stay with Mays throughout his life. A year white mobs and Ku Klux Klan members searched his house in search of relatives after local newspapers announced that cotton prices had plummeted.
In 1911, he was enrolled at the Brick House School in a Baptist-sponsored school. He transferred to the High School Department of South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, he graduated in 1916, aged 22 as its valedictorian. In high school, teachers let Mays instruct parts of the mathematics curriculum to students in exchange for extra credit, he won awards for mathematics. A teacher at the school had told Mays to seek graduate school at the University of Chicago as he thought the school would best nurture Mays' intellect. However, before attending graduate school Mays needed to seek an undergraduate education, his relatives and teachers forced him to attend a Baptist university–the Virginia Union University. He grew weary of the violence against blacks in Virginia so he sought the guidance of his academic advisors at Virginia Union, they advised him to look into schools in the North as they were seen as more prestigious and prominent than those of the South. Four professors at the university had attended Bates College in Lewiston and urged Mays to apply.
However, its exacting standards prohibited him from attending. After a year more in Richmond, M
Selma to Montgomery marches
The Selma to Montgomery marches were three protest marches, held in 1965, along the 54-mile highway from Selma, Alabama to the state capital of Montgomery. The marches were organized by nonviolent activists to demonstrate the desire of African-American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression, were part of a broader voting rights movement underway in Selma and throughout the American South. By highlighting racial injustice, they contributed to passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the Civil Rights Movement. Southern state legislatures had passed and maintained a series of discriminatory requirements and practices that had disenfranchised most of the millions of African Americans across the South throughout the 20th century; the African-American group known as the Dallas County Voters League launched a voter registration campaign in Selma in 1963. Joined by organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, they began working that year in a renewed effort to register black voters.
Finding resistance by white officials to be intractable after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended legal segregation, the DCVL invited Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the activists of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to join them. SCLC brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to Selma in January 1965. Local and regional protests began, with 3,000 people arrested by the end of February. According to Joseph A. Califano Jr. who served as head of domestic affairs for U. S. President Lyndon Johnson between the years 1965 and 1969, the President viewed King as an essential partner in getting the Voting Rights Act enacted. Califano, whom the President assigned to monitor the final march to Montgomery, said that Johnson and King talked by telephone on January 15 to plan a strategy for drawing attention to the injustice of using literacy tests and other barriers to stop black Southerners from voting, that King informed the President on February 9 of his decision to use Selma to achieve this objective.
On February 26, 1965, activist and deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson died after being mortally shot several days earlier by state trooper James Bonard Fowler, during a peaceful march in nearby Marion, Alabama. To defuse and refocus the community's outrage, SCLC Director of Direct Action James Bevel, directing SCLC's Selma voting rights movement, called for a march of dramatic length, from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery. Bevel had been working on his Alabama Project for voting rights since late 1963; the first march took place on March 7, 1965, organized locally by Bevel, Amelia Boynton, others. State troopers and county possemen attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas after they passed over the county line, the event became known as Bloody Sunday. Law enforcement beat Boynton unconscious, the media publicized worldwide a picture of her lying wounded on the Edmund Pettus Bridge; the second march took place March 9. Troopers and marchers confronted each other at the county end of the bridge, but when the troopers stepped aside to let them pass, King led the marchers back to the church.
He was obeying a federal injunction while seeking protection from federal court for the march. That night, a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, who had come to Selma to march with the second group. Many other clergy and sympathizers from across the country gathered for the second march; the violence of "Bloody Sunday" and Reeb's murder resulted in a national outcry and some acts of civil disobedience, targeting both the Alabama and federal governments. The protesters demanded protection for the Selma marchers and a new federal voting rights law to enable African Americans to register and vote without harassment. President Lyndon Johnson, whose administration had been working on a voting rights law, held a historic, nationally televised joint session of Congress on March 15 to ask for the bill's introduction and passage. With Governor Wallace refusing to protect the marchers, President Johnson committed to do so; the third march started March 21.
Protected by 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under federal command, many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles a day along U. S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the "Jefferson Davis Highway"; the marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. With thousands having joined the campaign, 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights; the route is memorialized as the "Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail", is designated as a U. S. National Historic Trail; the Voting Rights Act became law on August 6, 1965. At the turn of the 20th century, the Alabama state legislature passed a new constitution that disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites by requirements for payment of a poll tax and passing a literacy test and comprehension of the constitution. Subjective application of the laws closed most blacks out of politics. Selma is a major town and the seat of Dallas County, part of the Alabama Black Belt with a majority-black population.
In 1961, the population of Dallas County was 57% black, but of the 15,000 blacks old enough to vote, only 130 were registered. At that time, more than 80% of Dallas County blacks lived below the poverty line, most of them working as sharecroppers, farm hands, maids and day-laborers, but there were teachers and business owners. With the literacy test administered subjectively by white registrars educated blacks were prevented from registering or voting. Led by the Boynton family
Alberta Williams King
Alberta Christine Williams King was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s mother and the wife of Martin Luther King, Sr. She played a significant role in the affairs of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, she was shot and killed in the church by Marcus Wayne Chenault six years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Alberta Christine Williams was born on September 13, 1904, to Reverend Adam Daniel Williams, at the time preacher of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and Jennie Celeste Williams. Alberta Williams graduated from high school at the Spelman Seminary, earned a teaching certificate at the Hampton Normal and Industrial Institute in 1924. Williams met Martin L. King, whose sister Woodie was boarding with her parents, shortly before she left for Hampton. After graduating, she announced her engagement to King at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, she taught for a short time before their Thanksgiving Day 1926 wedding, but she had to quit because married female teachers were not allowed. Their first child, daughter Willie Christine King, was born on September 11, 1927.
Michael Luther King Jr. followed on January 15, 1929 Alfred Daniel Williams King I, named after his grandfather, on July 30, 1930. About this time, Michael King changed his name to Martin Luther King, Sr. Alberta King worked hard to instill self-respect into her children. In an essay he wrote at Crozer Seminary, Martin Luther King Jr., always close to her, wrote that she "was behind the scenes setting forth those motherly cares, the lack of which leaves a missing link in life." Alberta King's mother died on May 1941, of a heart attack. The King family moved to a large yellow brick house three blocks away. Alberta would serve as the organizer and president of the Ebenezer Women's Committee from 1950 to 1962, she was a talented musician who served as the choir organist and director at Ebenezer, which may have contributed to the respect her son had for the music. By the end of this period, Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr. were joint pastors of the church. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
King was in Memphis to lead a march in support of the local sanitation workers' union. He was pronounced dead one hour later. Mrs. King, a source of strength after her son's assassination, faced fresh tragedy the next year when her younger son and last-born child, Alfred Daniel Williams King I, who had become the assistant pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, drowned in his pool. Alberta King was shot and killed on June 30, 1974, at age 69 by Marcus Wayne Chenault, a 23-year-old black man from Ohio, who fired two handguns into her as she sat at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Chenault stated that he shot King because "all Christians are my enemies," and claimed that he had decided that black ministers were a menace to black people, he said his original target had been Martin Luther King, Sr. but he had decided to shoot his wife instead because she was close to him. One of the church's deacons, Edward Boykin, was killed in the attack, a woman was wounded. Alberta was interred at the South View Cemetery in Atlanta.
Martin Luther King, Sr. died of a heart attack on November 11, 1984, at age 84 and was interred next to her. Chenault was sentenced to death. On August 3, 1995, he suffered a stroke, was taken to a hospital, where he died of complications from his stroke on August 19, at age 44; the Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Volume I: Called to Serve, January 1929-June 1951 Introduction The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Chapter 1 edited by Clayborne Carson Martin Luther King, Jr. "Autobiography of Religious Development," 22 November 1950 Daddy King and Me: Memories of the Forgotten Father of the Civil Rights Movement. Continental Shelf Publishing, 2009. Stanford University biography of Alberta King African American registry article on death of Alberta King Find a Grave article on Alberta King The King Center biography of Martin Luther King, Jr
Coretta Scott King
Coretta Scott King was an American author, civil rights leader, the wife of Martin Luther King Jr. Coretta Scott King helped lead the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, she was an active advocate for African-American equality. King met her husband while attending graduate school in Boston, they both became active in the American Civil Rights Movement. She was a singer, incorporated music into her civil rights work. King played a prominent role in the years after her husband's assassination in 1968 when she took on the leadership of the struggle for racial equality herself and became active in the Women's Movement. King sought to make his birthday a national holiday, she succeeded when Ronald Reagan signed legislation which established Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on November 2, 1983, she broadened her scope to include both opposition to apartheid and advocacy for LGBT rights. King became friends with many politicians before and after Martin Luther King's death, including John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B.
Johnson, Robert F. Kennedy, her telephone conversation with John F. Kennedy during the 1960 presidential election has been credited by historians for mobilizing African-American voters. In August 2005, King suffered a stroke which left her unable to speak, her funeral was attended including four of five living US presidents. She was temporarily buried on the grounds of the King Center until being interred next to her husband, she was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame and was the first African American to lie in the Georgia State Capitol. King has been referred to as "First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement". Coretta Scott was born in Alabama the third of four children of Obadiah Scott and Bernice McMurry Scott, she was born in her parents' home with her paternal great-grandmother Delia Scott, a former slave, presiding as midwife. Coretta's mother became known for her musical singing voice; as a child, Bernice attended the local Crossroads School and only had a fourth-grade education.
Bernice's older siblings, attended boarding school at the Booker T. Washington-founded Tuskegee Institute; the senior Mrs. Scott worked as a school bus driver, a church pianist, for her husband in his business ventures, she served as Worthy Matron for her Eastern Star chapter and was a member of the local Literacy Federated Club. Obie, Coretta's father, was one of the first black people in their town to own a vehicle. Before starting his own businesses, he worked as a policeman. Along with his wife, he ran a clothing shop far from their home and opened a general store, he owned a lumber mill, burned down by white neighbors after Scott refused to lend his mill to a white male logger. Her maternal grandparents were Mollie and Martin van Buren McMurry – both were of African American and Irish descent. Mollie was born a slave to plantation owners Jim Adeline Smith. Coretta's maternal grandfather, was born to a slave of Black Native American ancestry, her white master who never acknowledged Martin as his son.
He owned a 280-acre farm. Because of his diverse origins, Martin appeared to be white. However, he displayed contempt for the notion of passing; as a self-taught reader with little formal education, he is noted for having inspired Coretta's passion for education. Coretta's paternal grandparents were Jefferson F. Scott. Cora died before Coretta's birth. Jeff Scott was a prominent figure in the rural black religious community. At age 10, Coretta worked to increase the family's income, she had an older sister named Edythe Scott Bagley an older sister named Eunice who did not survive childhood, a younger brother named Obadiah Leonard. According to a DNA analysis, she was descended from the Mende people of Sierra Leone; the Scott family had owned a farm since the American Civil War, but were not wealthy. During the Great Depression the Scott children picked cotton to help earn money and shared a bedroom with their parents. Coretta described herself as a tomboy during her childhood because she could climb trees and recalled wrestling boys.
In addition, she mentioned having been stronger than a male cousin and threatening before accidentally cutting that same cousin with an axe. His mother threatened her, along with the words of her siblings, stirred her to becoming more ladylike once she got older, she saw irony in the fact that despite these early physical activities, she still was involved in nonviolent movements. Her brother Obadiah thought she always "tried to excel in everything she did." Her sister Edythe believed her personality was like that of their grandmother Cora McLaughlin Scott, after whom she was named. Though lacking formal education themselves, Coretta Scott's parents intended for all of their children to be educated. Coretta quoted her mother as having said, "My children are going to college if it means I only have but one dress to put on."The Scott children attended a one-room elementary school 5 miles from their home and were bussed to Lincoln Normal School, which despite being 9 mi from their home, was the closest black high school in Marion, due to racial segregation in schools.
The bus was driven by Coretta's mother Bernice. By the time Scott had entered the school, Lincoln had suspended tuition and charged only fou
Dexter Scott King is the second son of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. He is the brother of Martin Luther King III, Bernice King, Yolanda King. King was born in Atlanta and named after the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, where his father was pastor before moving to the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, his eldest sister Yolanda watched after him. He was seven years old. King and his siblings were assured an education thanks to the help of Harry Belafonte, who set up a trust fund for them years prior to their father's death. King attended the Democratic National Convention in 1972, which led him to gain an interest in politics. Dexter Scott King went to Douglass High School. King attended his late father's alma mater, he did not graduate. He became an actor and documentary filmmaker. King splits his time between Atlanta, where he serves as chairman of the King Center, Malibu, California. In May 1989, King's mother named the twenty-eight-year-old as her successor as president of the King Center.
Before his mother's choice, King expressed interest in changing the King Center into "a West Point of nonviolent training." Dexter Scott King served as president of the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, but resigned only four months after taking the office after a dispute with her. He resumed the position in 1994, but the King Center's influence was reduced by then; as President, he cut the number of staff from 70 to 14 and shut down a child care center among a shift from conventional activities to prioritizing preserving his father's legacy. Reflecting, King admitted that the time was not right since he was "probably moving faster than the board was ready to."Dexter has been a dedicated vegan and animal rights activist since the late 1980s. He attended the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on August 28, 2013, the event at which his father delivered his I Have a Dream speech. Dexter Scott King portrayed his father and Civil rights movement activist Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2002 American television movie The Rosa Parks Story.
In 1997, 29 years after Martin Luther King Jr.'s death, Dexter met with James Earl Ray, the man imprisoned for his father's 1968 murder. When confronting him, King asked Ray, "I just want to ask you, for the record, um, did you kill my father?" Ray replied, "No-no I didn't." King told Ray that he along with the rest of the King family believed him. King and Ray had discussed the latter's health and the actions of J. Edgar Hoover. King told him that his family believed in his testament of innocence and were seeking to help him; the two spoke after 25 minutes with reporters, King asserted to reporters that he did not know who killed his father and that this uncertainty was the cause of their request for a new trial. As he asserted that he did not believe Ray had any role in his father's death, he brought up evidence taken from the scene such as the murder weapon and concluded that Ray would not have disposed of it near the scene of the crime, calling his belief as having been in his "gut."At a 1999 press conference, Dexter was subsequently asked by a reporter, "there are many people out there who feel that as long as these conspirators remain nameless and faceless there is no true closure, no justice."
He replied: No, he named the shooter. The shooter was Lt. Earl Clark who he named as the killer. Once again, beyond that you had credible witnesses that named members of a Special Forces team who didn't have to act because the contract killer succeeded, with plausible denial, a Mafia contracted killer, his belief towards a conspiracy extended to President Lyndon B. Johnson, he believed that with the evidence he was shown, there would be difficulty "for something of that magnitude to occur on his watch and he not be privy to it." King pursued Andrew Young to get him involved, Young changed his position on the assassination of his father after being visited by Dexter in the spring of 1997. His position had always been "that it didn't matter who killed Dr. King but what killed him." Dexter charged the Atlanta-Journal Constitution with "viciously attacking" his family after the newspaper printed a claim by a German television program that his sister Bernice wanted $4,000 or $5,000 for a ten-minute interview, which King denied.
King's mother, Coretta Scott King, died on January 2006, at the age of 78 on his 45th birthday. Dexter's elder sister, collapsed at the home of his best friend, Philip Madison Jones, on May 15, 2007. King called his aunt Christine King Ferris and reported that he had tried to save her, but was not successful and was transporting her to the hospital, she could not be revived and died at the age of 51. Her family believes. Dexter spoke to her just an hour before her death, did not think much of it when she told him she was tired due to her "hectic" schedule. In regards to his sister's passing and the role she had played in his life, King statedShe gave me permission, she allowed me to give myself permission to be me". It was reported in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that in July 2013, Dexter married his fiancée Leah Weber in a private ceremony in California. On July 11, 2008, Dexter King was sued by his sister Bernice Albertine King and brother Martin Luther King III; the lawsuit alleged that Dexter King improperly took funds from the estate of Coretta King and his father Martin Luther King Jr..
On August 18, 2008, Dexter King filed a countersuit stating his siblings had "b
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement in the United States was a decades-long struggle with the goal of enforcing constitutional and legal rights for African Americans that other Americans enjoyed. With roots that dated back to the Reconstruction era during the late 19th century, the movement achieved its largest legislative gains in the mid-1960s, after years of direct actions and grassroots protests that were organized from the mid-1950s until 1968. Encompassing strategies, various groups, organized social movements to accomplish the goals of ending legalized racial segregation, disenfranchisement, discrimination in the United States, the movement, using major nonviolent campaigns secured new recognition in federal law and federal protection for all Americans. After the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery in the 1860s, the Reconstruction Amendments to the United States Constitution granted emancipation and constitutional rights of citizenship to all African Americans, most of whom had been enslaved.
For a period, African Americans voted and held political office, but they were deprived of civil rights under Jim Crow laws, subjected to discrimination and sustained violence by whites in the South. Over the following century, various efforts were made by African Americans to secure their legal rights. Between 1955 and 1968, acts of nonviolent protest and civil disobedience produced crisis situations and productive dialogues between activists and government authorities. Federal and local governments and communities had to respond to these situations, which highlighted the inequities faced by African Americans across the country; the lynching of Chicago teenager Emmett Till in Mississippi, the outrage generated by seeing how he had been abused, when his mother decided to have an open-casket funeral, mobilized the African-American community nationwide. Forms of protest and/or civil disobedience included boycotts, such as the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama. Moderates in the movement worked with Congress to achieve the passage of several significant pieces of federal legislation that overturned discriminatory practices and authorized oversight and enforcement by the federal government.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 expressly banned discrimination based on race, religion, sex, or national origin in employment practices. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 restored and protected voting rights for minorities by authorizing federal oversight of registration and elections in areas with historic under-representation of minorities as voters; the Fair Housing Act of 1968 banned discrimination in the rental of housing. African Americans re-entered politics in the South, across the country young people were inspired to take action. From 1964 through 1970, a wave of inner-city riots in black communities undercut support from the white middle class, but increased support from private foundations; the emergence of the Black Power movement, which lasted from about 1965 to 1975, challenged the established black leadership for its cooperative attitude and its practice of nonviolence. Instead, its leaders demanded that, in addition to the new laws gained through the nonviolent movement and economic self-sufficiency had to be developed in the black community.
Many popular representations of the movement are centered on the charismatic leadership and philosophy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in non-violent, moral leadership. However, some scholars note that the movement was too diverse to be credited to any one person, organization, or strategy. Before the American Civil War four million blacks were enslaved in the South, only white men of property could vote, the Naturalization Act of 1790 limited U. S. citizenship to whites only. But some free states of the North extended the franchise and other rights of citizenship to African Americans. Following the Civil War, three constitutional amendments were passed, including the 13th Amendment that ended slavery. From 1865 to 1877, the United States underwent a turbulent Reconstruction Era trying to establish free labor and civil rights of freedmen in the South after the end of slavery. Many whites resisted the social changes, leading to insurgent movements such as the Ku Klux Klan, whose members attacked black and white Republicans to maintain white supremacy.
In 1871, President Ulysses S. Grant, the U. S. Army, U. S. Attorney General Amos T. Akerman, initiated a campaign to repress the KKK under the Enforcement Acts; some states were reluctant to enforce the federal measures of the act. In addition, by the early 1870s, other white supremacist and insurgent paramilitary groups arose that violently opposed African-American legal equality and suffrage and suppressing black voters, assassinating Republican officeholders. However, if the states failed to implement the acts, the laws allowed the Federal Government to ge
Martin Luther King Sr.
Martin Luther King Sr. was an African American Baptist pastor, an early figure in the Civil Rights Movement. He was the father of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Sr. was born Michael King in Stockbridge, the son of Delia and James Albert King. He led the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and became a leader of the Civil Rights Movement, as the head of the NAACP chapter in Atlanta and of the Civic and Political League, he encouraged his son to become active in the movement. King was a member of the Baptist Church and decided to become a preacher after being inspired by ministers who were prepared to stand up for racial equality, he left Stockbridge for Atlanta, where his sister Woodie was boarding with Reverend A. D. Williams pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, he attended Dillard University for a two-year degree. After King started courting Williams' daughter, her family encouraged him to finish his education and to become a preacher. King completed his high school education at Bryant Preparatory School, began to preach in several black churches in Atlanta.
In 1926, King started his ministerial degree at the Morehouse School of Religion. On Thanksgiving Day in 1926, after eight years of courtship, he married Alberta in the Ebenezer Church; the couple had three children in four years: a daughter, Willie Christine King, Martin Luther King Jr. and a second son, Alfred Daniel Williams King. King became leader of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in March 1931 after the death of Williams. With the country in the midst of the Great Depression, church finances were struggling, but King organized membership and fundraising drives that restored these to health. By 1934, King had become a respected leader of the local church; that year, he changed his name from Michael King to Martin Luther King after a period of gradual transition on his own part. He was inspired during a trip to Germany for that year's meeting of the Baptist World Alliance. While visiting sites associated with reformation leader Martin Luther, attendees witnessed the rise of Nazism; the BWA conference issued a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, the senior King gained deepened appreciation for the power of Luther's protest.
King was the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church for four decades, wielding great influence in the black community and earning some degree of respect from the white community. He broadcast on WAEC, a religious radio station in Atlanta. In his 1950 essay An Autobiography of Religious Development, King Jr. wrote that his father was a major influence on his entering the ministry. He said, "I guess the influence of my father had a great deal to do with my going in the ministry; this is not to say that he spoke to me in terms of being a minister, but that my admiration for him was the great moving factor. King Jr. recounted that his father sent him to work in the fields. He said. In his autobiography, King Jr. remembered his father leaving a shoe shop because he and his son were asked to change seats. He said, "This was the first time; that experience revealed to me at a early age that my father had not adjusted to the system, he played a great part in shaping my conscience. I still remember walking down the street beside him as he muttered,'I don't care how long I have to live with this system, I will never accept it.'"Another story related by King Jr. was that once the car his father was driving was stopped by a police officer, the officer addressed the senior King as "boy".
King pointed to his son, saying, "This is a boy, I'm a man. King Jr. became an associate pastor at Ebenezer in 1948, his father wrote a letter of recommendation for him to attend the Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. King Sr. made arrangement for King Jr. to work with J. Pius Barbour, a family friend who pastored at Calvary Baptist Church in Chester. Despite theological differences and son would serve together as joint pastors at the church. King was a major figure in the Civil Rights Movement in Georgia, where he rose to become the head of the NAACP in Atlanta and the Civic and Political League, he led the fight for equal teachers' salaries in Atlanta. He played an instrumental role in ending Jim Crow laws in the state. King had refused to ride on Atlanta's bus system since the 1920s after a vicious attack on black passengers with no action against those responsible. King stressed the need for an educated, politically active black ministry. In October 1960, when King Jr. was arrested at a peaceful sit-in in Atlanta, Robert Kennedy telephoned the judge and helped secure his release.
Although King Sr. had opposed Kennedy because he was a Catholic, he expressed his appreciation for these calls and switched his support to Kennedy. At this time, King had been a lifelong registered Republican, had endorsed Republican Richard Nixon. King Jr. soon became a popular civil rights activist. Taking inspiration from Mohandas Gandhi of India, he led nonviolent protests in order to win greater rights for African Americans. King Jr. was shot and killed in 1968. King Sr.'s youngest son, Alfred Daniel Williams King, died of an accidental drowning on July 21, 1969, nine days before his 39th birthday. In 1969, King was one of several members of the Morehouse College board of trustees held hostage on the campus by a group of students dema