Martin Luther King, Jr. Timeline
Timeline Description: Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most famous civil rights activists in history. He called for African Americans to respond to discrimination peacefully, no matter how much violence was brought on them. He was murdered in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. His birthday was made a national holiday in the United States in 1986.
| January 15, 1929
||Martin Luther King, Jr. is born in Atlanta, Georgia.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is born in his grandparents' house in Atlanta, Georgia. He is named after his father, Michael, but both of them change their names to Martin a few years later.
| June 1948
||King graduates from Morehouse College in Atlanta.
King earns a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Morehouse College in Atlanta. He is not a particularly good student and is not sure what he wanted to do with his life, considering both law and medicine.
| September 1948
||King enrolls in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania.
King decides to devote his life to God and enrolls in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. Here, he is an excellent student and what he learns in school will shape many of his ideas for the rest of his life.
| June 18, 1953
||King marries Coretta Scott in Marion, Alabama.
King marries Coretta Scott, a former music student, at her parents' home in Marion, Alabama. When she first met him, Coretta was not sure she wanted to date a minister, but she eventually fell in love with him.
| December 1955
||King is elected the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association.
After Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a bus and is arrested, Montgomery African Americans refuse to ride the buses. A group called the Montgomery Improvement Association forms and elects 26 year-old King as its president.
| January 30, 1956
||King's house is bombed.
While speaking at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, King's house is bombed by whites who are unhappy with the bus boycott. Despite the bombing, King encouraged the African Americans who had gathered at his home to not respond with violence.
| January 1957
||King is elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is formed by churches in the South to help coordinate more boycotts because the Montgomery bus boycott is a success. King is elected the president of the SCLC.
| September 1958
||King's first book, "Stride Toward Freedom" is published.
King writes a book about the Montgomery bus boycotts and "Stride Toward Freedom" is published. A mentally ill woman stabs him with a letter opener at a book-signing event in Harlem.
| October 19, 1960
||King is arrested in Atlanta.
King is arrested while participating at a protest called a "sit-in" at a department store in Atlanta. Because he had a traffic ticket earlier in the year, a judge sends King to state prison, but Robert Kennedy calls the judge and King is released on October 27.
| April 1963
||King is arrested in Birmingham, Alabama.
While protesting in Birmingham, Alabama, King is arrested for protesting without a permit. This makes Birmingham the focus of the Civil Rights Movement and King writes his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail."
| August 28, 1963
||King gives his "I Have a Dream" speech.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is held in Washington, D.C. to try and gain support for the Civil Rights Act. King gives his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
| December 10, 1964
||King wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
King is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the Civil Rights Movement. He is praised for calling for peaceful resistance to discrimination against African Americans.
| April 3, 1968
||King gives the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech.
Speaking at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, King gives a speech about the Memphis Sanitation Strike. In the speech, which has come to be known as "I've Been to the Mountaintop," King speaks about the possibility that he may not live to see the end of discrimination against African Americans.
| April 4, 1968
||King is assassinated in Memphis
While standing on a motel balcony in Memphis, King is assassinated by James Earl Ray. Riots break out in over 100 cities in the U.S. and over 20,000 people are arrested.
| November 2, 1986
||King's birthday is declared a national holiday.
In honor of his work for equality in the U.S., King's birthday is declared a national holiday. He is one of only two people, along with Christopher Columbus, to have his own holiday.