Martin Luther King Jr was born Michael King Jr on 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. A Baptist minister, he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement as an activist from the early days, leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and was a founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1957), serving as its first president. He also organized the March on Washington in 1963 where he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, led an unsuccessful bid to end segregation in Albany, Georgia in ’62, and was part of a series of peaceful protests in Birmingham, Alabama in ’63.
The homosexual and quite bigoted director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, had a special hatred for King and was always seeking out a conspiracy between the Civil Rights leader and Communism. He even managed to talk John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy into allowing him to scrutinize Martin Luther King Jr for proof of the alleged ties. Apparently, a lawyer by the name of Stanley Levison, who had been a member of the Communist Party in America, was an associate of King’s, and the Kennedys both tried to get Martin Luther King Jr to break ties with Levison, though they were not successful. Hoover declared that King was ‘the most notorious liar in the country’ and the FBI pegged him ‘ the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country’. Whether or not this is because King was finally getting Blacks to stand up for their rights, was ‘in bed’ with the Commies, or because he was a womanizer (a personality quirk that his wife, Coretta, had accepted about him), cannot be said. How a man who was nothing but a pervert could speak out against anyone else’s morals in beyond me but when it comes to questions of White morality and Black morality, the White man comes out on top.
Inspired a great deal by Gandhi (who unfortunately, and perhaps unbeknownst to Martin Luther King Jr, was a racist), King was a firm believer in nonviolence – something many Blacks should take heed of today – and also in the notion that love triumphs over hate. On 14 October 1964, Martin Luther King Jr became the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in battling racial inequality, and in 1965 he was part of the organized Selma to Montgomery marches to combat segregation in Alabama. He also worked to end segregated housing in Chicago, opposed the Vietnam War – much to the chagrin of his liberal followers – and was actively engaged in a Poor People’s Campaign when his life was ended by the bullet of a White racist named James Earl Ray on 4 April 1968 in Memphis.
Here is an excerpt from the “I Have a Dream” speech, in which King strayed from the written text (at the urging of Mahalia Jackson, according to a couple of sources) and delivered one of the most powerful oratories in history:
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.