Remembering Martin Luther King

At this time of year, when I have few work meetings, I like to attend short courses at the City Literary Institute in central London. So I recently attended a course on Martin Luther King delivered by American lecturer Dale Mineshima-Lowe.

We learned many things including:

  • He was born in Atlanta, Georgia on 15 January 1929 and originally called Michael Luther King Jr. When his father changed his first name from Michael to Martin, his name changed too.
  • His doctorate was obtained in systematic theology with a dissertation on “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman”. An academic inquiry in October 1991 concluded that portions of his dissertation had been plagiarised.
  • He married Coretta Scott and they had four children. There is a fair amount of evidence that he was human and had many affairs.
  • His support for non-violent protest was inspired by the teaching and experience of Mahatma Ghandi and deepened by a trip to India in 1959.
  • He had made the “I have a dream” speech before the March on Washington on 28 August 1963 and did not intend to repeat it, but was urged to do so by a colleague close to him as he neared the the end of his planned address, the last of the day.
  • He was a significant factor in the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and was present when President Johnson signed the act into law.
  • In 1964, he received the Nobel Prize for Peace.
  • Although he is best known for his campaigns for civil rights and racial desegregation, towards the end of his life, he spoke against poverty and the Vietnam war.
  • He was assassinated on 4 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. We still do not know the identity of his killer.


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