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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights activist

by Kawailehua Kahumoku, staff writer


Martin Luther King Jr., civil right activist, never lived an average life, even one typical of an African American man in the 1960s.

Born January of 1929, King was a bright child who only seemed to become brighter with age. He skipped the ninth grade at Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta and during his junior year received such high scores on his college entrance exams that he was allowed to advance to Morehouse College immediately. He entered college at the age of 15 and soon thereafter entered the Christian ministry and was ordained at 19. King later went on to earn his PhD in Systematic Theology from Boston University. King stated, “We must remember that intelligence in not enough. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education,”( when addressing students at Morehouse College in 1948.


Dr. King's degrees and awards are not what we know him for, or why we get a day off of work and school to celebrate his birthday. It’s the tremendous role he played in the U.S. Civil Rights movement.

King was president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, and headed up the famous Montgomery bus boycott started by Rosa Parks in 1955. The boycott ran for 381 days, and as we know today, was a success. King was arrested 30 times by police for his involvement in civil right actions.

Dr. King had a passion and a drive to make real his dreams of a new life in the United States, dreams of equality, dreams that all men are created equal and should be treated equal. His ideas gave millions of African Americans and low-income men and women a new sense of pride and self-worth.

Despite all Dr. King’s messages and hopes, he was destroyed by the power of hate. He was killed by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tenn. on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in 1968, at the age of 39.

King left behind his wife of almost 15 years and four children all, aged 13, 11, 7, and 5. Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. every third Monday in January and again in the month of February, along with many other significant African Americans during Black History Month.

In King’s letter from Birmingham jail on April 16, 1963, he said, “In the end, we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” (

For more information on Dr. King, visit, or

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