King, Martin Luther Jr.

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2000

5 Pages

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Why Martin Luther King, Jr.?

I chose to write a report on Martin Luther King, Jr., because I admire him for the work that he did in gaining equal rights and opportunities for African-Americans. My mother, who is from Atlanta, Georgia, which is also the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., remembers him exactly and experienced segregation and the civil rights movement when she was growing up. Since none of us had been to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, my parents and I decided to go there during our summer vacation this year.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center is on Auburn Avenue, a street in downtown Atlanta. The Visitor Center is across from the old Ebenezer Baptist Church, where he, his father and grandfather were pastors. Scenes from Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘s life are displayed in several rooms. Visi tors can see videos, pictures and signs from his life and times. One sign that I was impressed by, for example, reads “Whites Only” or “No Colored”. In the southern states, such as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Florida and the Carolinas, there was a system of keeping black and white people apart, called segregation. This was kind of like apartheid in South Africa, although it wasn’t that strict.

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Lunch counters in downtown stores, where most people went to shop, only served white people. In buses, whites were supposed to take their seats from the front, blacks from the back. If black people were sitting and white people didn’t find a seat, the blacks were supposed to stand up and give whites a seat. The purpose of the civil rights movement, which began in the1950s, was to change this.

In the Visitor Center a thirty-minute video of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life is shown.

Ebenezer Baptist Church

The old church is located on Auburn Ave., across from the King Center. This is the church where Martin Luther King and his father used to preach. This is not being used anymore, so it is now open to visitors of the King Center The new Ebenezer Baptist Church was built straight across from the old one, and is about three times as big.

As you can see from the picture, the church is small but it looks a lot like other old churches in Atlanta. The stained glass windows show the names of people who donated money to the church.

Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘s life

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the family’s first son, and was named after his father, Martin Luther King, Sr. He lived with his parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts, and uncles in a house located in the residential area called “Sweet Auburn” on Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta. This was the center of black Atlanta and still is.

His first job as a pastor was at the Dexter Avenue Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama. His work with the civil rights movement began on December 5 of that year, when a black seamstress, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat to a white person on a city bus.

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Black residents started a bus boycott and elected Martin Luther King, Jr. as president of a new organization called Montgomery Improvement Association. The purpose of this was to help blacks gain equal rights. The boycott continued all the way through 1956, and Martin Luther King, Jr. gained national attention for his courage and his great skill in writing and presenting his speeches. In that same year his home in Montgomery was bombed.

He was arrested and later convicted, along with other boycott leaders, for interfering with the bus company’s operations. This boycott failed because the city bus company stopped service to black neighborhoods. Although the city government tried to stop actions like these, buses in Montgomery were desegregated in December 1956, after US Supreme Court declared Alabama’s segregation laws were against the US constitution. This was the spark that started the civil rights movement.

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The Civil Rights Movement

Among other things, Martin Luther King, Jr. fought to gain voting rights for blacks. In Mississippi and several other southern states, black people had to take a so- called “literacy test” before they were allowed to vote. The standard result was “unable”. This was because these tests contained questions that were impossible to answer. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his supporters wanted to change this. If white people are allowed to vote, why shouldn’t black people, they thought. Blacks and whites should have equal rights.

Besides the bus boycott, Martin Luther King Jr. and other supporters of his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), held freedom marches and demonstrations for voting rights all over the southern United States. They also held “sit-ins” at lunch counters in the south, where only white people were served, or participated in “Freedom Marches” in Mississippi. These demonstrations were always peaceful, because Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted them that way. One of the largest demonstrations, with 250,000 people, was held at the Lincoln Memorial (this is a very large monument with a statute of President Abraham Lincoln in Washington DC) in 1963. This is where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

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In 1958, his first book, “Stride Toward

Freedom”, was published. This told the Montgomery story. In 1959 he toured India, to learn about the non-violent strategies of Mahatma Ghandi.

At the end of that year he returned to Atlanta, where the SCLC’s headquarters was located, to work with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church

Martin Luther King, Jr. was praised by some white leaders because he believed in non-violence. He also made enemies, even among some militant black civil rights leaders. In1964 he was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year and also received the Nobel Peace Prize.

The assassination

On April 5, 1968. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot to death while standing on the balcony in front of his room at the Lorraine Motel. in Memphis Tennessee, where he planned to give a speech at a garbage workers’ strike. (This was a hotel where only black people stayed.) Before he was shot, he was talking to two of his friends, Rev. Jesse Jackson, another important civil rights leader, and a musician, whom he had asked to play a song for him.

The governor of Tennessee ordered 4000 National Guard troops into Memphis to hunt for the killer. The police found a 30.06-caliber rifle about a block away from the scene of the shooting, which they believe was the rifle that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot with. Martin Luther King, Jr. was taken to the nearest hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:05 pm. Until now it still isn’t clear who actually shot him. The police arrested a man named James Earl Ray, whose fingerprints they had found on the sniper rifle. James Earl Ray was tried and convicted of murdering Martin Luther King, Jr. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He promised until his death last year, that he had nothing to do with the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The King Family believed Ray and asked for a new trial, but he died of a liver disease before there could be a new trial.

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His Legacy

It was because of Martin Luther King Jr.‘s work that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. This act said that no one was allowed to discriminate against anyone else because of race or religion. All over the United States streets are named for Martin Luther King, Jr. Most black people still think he was their greatest leader.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

In 1986 President Ronald Reagan signed the law to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday an official national holiday. There were different reactions to this move. Most people thought that finally Martin Luther King, Jr. got the credit he deserved, Others went out in the streets to demonstrate against this holiday.

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5 of 5 pages


King, Martin Luther Jr.
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
843 KB
King, Martin, Luther
Quote paper
Brian Williams (Author), 2000, King, Martin Luther Jr., Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • guest on 1/24/2002

    King, Martin Luther Jr..

    Einfach und doch informativ!

  • guest on 11/12/2001


    Super Text. du Honk hast mir gerade einen ganzen Tag für meinen englisch Vortrag erspart. (zum glück giebt es dlöde leute die faulen wie mir das denken ersparen)

  • guest on 11/10/2001

    klasse text.

    Also der Text ist echt klasse und hat mir bei den Recherchen über Martin Luther King, Jr. sehr weitergeholfen. Ein großes Lob an den Verfasser!

  • guest on 10/5/2001

    mal etwas Abwechslungsreiches.

    Also die Ausarbeitung und die einzelnen
    Mittel, wie er beschreibt und die Bilder, sind sehr ausführlich formuliert und verständig. Ich finde diese Arbeit sehr gut.

  • guest on 5/1/2001


    Nicht schlecht, mein Freund!

  • guest on 3/6/2001

    Martin luther king, jr..

    gut gelungen

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