Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: Transformational Leader
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. Martin Luther King, Jr. was very bright and entered college when he was 15 years old. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do as a career but he knew he wanted to help people. After college, he attended a theological school in Pennsylvania and after that earned a doctorate degree. In college, he read an essay by Henry David Thoreau who believed that people had the right to disobey any law they thought was evil or unjust. He also read about Mahatma Gandhi, a great leader of India, who believed in nonviolence as a way to bring about change. Both of these men had a major influence on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s thinking.
In 1955, Rosa Parks, who was a community leader and activist in Montgomery, refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white person. Rosa Parks was arrested on the spot and the news of this occurrence spread quickly throughout Montgomery. Montgomery’s black leaders met in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church to discuss what do to and agreed to a one-day boycott of the buses as a protest. They later extended the boycott, which lasted 381 days, and ended in victory when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation of the buses was illegal.
Martin Luther King, Jr. became the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), whose goal was to win equality for all people. They won many victories using nonviolent techniques such as boycotts, marches and sit-ins and ultimately brought about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He is praised for calling for peaceful resistance to discrimination against African-Americans. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the historic March on Washington to demand “jobs and freedom.” About 250,000 Americans of all races came to Washington, D.C. to listen to speeches by many civil rights leaders, especially Martin Luther King, Jr. On April 4, 1968, at the age of 39, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed by an assassin. Since 1986, his birthday has been a national holiday in the United States.