Day in History 4 April – Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this day in 1968, clergyman, activist, prominent leader and iconic figure in the African American civil rights movement, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 39.  Born on 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.  His father’s name was Michael King, but he changed his name to Martin Luther King after Martin Luther (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546), the admired German priest and professor of theology who initiated the Protestant Reformation.  King believed in and urged the use of nonviolent methods in the advancement of civil rights.  One of the greatest orators in American history.  His “I Have a Dream” speech concludes with; “Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”  In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology, and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951. King married Coretta Scott, on 18 June 1953, on the lawn of her parents’ house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama.  In the close of his last speech given in Memphis before the assassiantion, King said; “And then I got to Memphis.  And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out.  What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?  Well, I don’t know what will happen now.  We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now.  Because I’ve been to the mountaintop.  And I don’t mind.  Like anybody, I would like to live a long life.  Longevity has its place.  But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”  The Final Footprint – King is entombed at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta.  His crypt has the inscription; “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m Free at last.”  Coretta was entombed next to him upon her death in 2006.  Her crypt has the inscription; “And now abide Faith, Hope, Love, These Three; but the greatest of these is Love.” 1 Cor. 13:13.  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986.

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