Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Publication: Historical Archives. Posted by
Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
The last photograph ever taken of MLK depicts him smiling outside the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. He was assassinated the following day by James Earl Ray.
“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.” Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister who rose to fame in the late 1950s and early 1960s for his role in the civil rights movement. The Atlanta native promoted equal rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience as he led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and served as the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He gained widespread fame in 1963 when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington.
King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his contributions to the civil rights movement and continued his efforts for equal rights over the next four years until his assassination on April 4, 1968. The 39-year-old King was in Memphis, Tennessee working on the Poor People’s Campaign when he was shot and killed by James Earl Ray. In the decades since King’s tragic death, his legacy as one of the most iconic figures in history has been honored countless times. Posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, King is a leading figure in American History whose dream was one day to see equality for every man and woman.
Life and Career
Martin Luther King Jr. came into this world on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia as the son of Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta King. The middle of three children, King grew up in a devout Baptist home and was heavily influenced by his father’s protests against segregation. In high school, he was known for his public-speaking skills and was a valued member of the school’s debate team. In his spare time, he worked as the assistant manager for the Atlanta Journal and, because of this experience and his academic skills, he skipped both his freshman and senior years of high school.
The 15-year-old King passed the Morehouse College entrance exam and spent three years playing college football. After earning his degree in sociology at 19, he enrolled at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. With his father’s support, King worked at the local Calvary Baptist Church and served as president of the student body before completing his work at the seminary and accepting a position as the pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Shortly before settling down in Alabama, he married Coretta Scott in June 1953 and quickly started a family with the births of Yolanda (1955), Martin Luther King III (1957), Dexter Scott (1961), and Bernice (1963).
Following his appointment as a pastor in Alabama, King continued his education and earned his Ph.D. in systematic theology from Boston University in 1955. During this time, he guest-pastored at various churches throughout New England and became a more vocal figure in the civil rights movement. When Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat on the bus in March 1955, a direct violation of the Jim Crow laws in the southern United States, King served on the committee that looked into the case. Nine months later, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, which led King to coordinate the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted for 385 days. King was suddenly a household name in Alabama and, because of his call for equal rights, was the subject of many death and bomb threats. Before long, he was a national figure and one of the most recognized spokesmen of the civil rights movement.
Over the next few years, King’s influence grew as he co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was named its first president. He published his book, Stride Toward Freedom, and shared his Christian beliefs that nonviolent civil disobedience could pave the way toward justice and equal rights. He was involved in the 1961 Albany Movement and the 1963 Birmingham campaign, both of which King hoped would “create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.” Similar incidents followed in St. Augustine, Florida, Selma, Alabama, and New York City in 1964.
King’s influence culminated in Washington D.C. in 1963 when he delivered a 17-minute speech that was later titled, “I Have a Dream.” King’s iconic speech brought the largest gathering of protestors to the capital city at the time as he shared his dreams saying, “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.’”
Death and Legacy
King’s 1963 March on Washington sealed his fate as a civil rights leader. He won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and spent the next four years coordinating even bigger movements like the peaceful march for sanitation workers in downtown Memphis, Tennessee in April 1968. Forced back to his room at the Lorraine Motel after teenagers created havoc in the streets, the 39-year-old King was fatally shot by James Earl Ray on April 4th.
The nation erupted in riots following King’s death. In the decades since then, King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. He is also honored every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Hundreds of streets around the country are named in his honor and his likeness stands as a reminder to all at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.