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MLK: A voice remembered

18 Jan 2013 | Lance Cpl. Lauren Kurkimilis

Every year in January, the nation takes a day to honor the memory of a man whose voice rang out through history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was a man who devoted his life to the equal rights of men and women of all colors.

Many know Dr. King for his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, a defining moment in the American Civil Rights Movement. But there are things not many know about him.

King was born on Jan. 15, 1929 as Michael, and later changed his name to Martin in order to follow in his father’s footsteps. He graduated high school at the age of 15 and at the age of 36 became the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

He earned a B.A. in 1948 and went on to study theology at Crozer Theological Seminary where he was elected president of his senior class, which was predominately comprised of white students.

King held multiple bachelor’s degrees and a doctorate, earning him the title of doctor in 1955.

That December, he led the first modern African-American nonviolent demonstration in the United States, the bus boycott. The boycott lasted 382 days during which he was arrested, his home was bombed and he was physically abused. Approximately a year after the beginning of the boycott, the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional for law to require segregation on buses. 

Throughout his equal rights campaign he was arrested more than 20 times, assaulted at least four times and was named Man of the Year by Times magazine in 1963. He was not only a symbolic leader of the American civil rights movement but also a world figure.

Between 1957 and 1968, he spoke more than 2,500 times wherever there was protest and injustice. He wrote five books and numerous articles.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, as King stood on the balcony of his motel  in Memphis, Tenn., he was shot and killed. He dedicated his life to his faith and the furtherance of civil rights. The way he lived his life, despite the way it was tragically taken, was a beacon of inspiration for peaceful assembly.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader that fought for freedom and equality and ultimately, gave his life in support of those efforts. We continue to honor him for all his accomplishments and his sacrifice.

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