Martin Luther King Jr.: National Hero

Author: Kiara Poitra, Receptionist & Events Coordinator

A few days ago we closed down the office for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It got me thinking about the sacrifices and effort he put into making this country as great as it is. So, I decided to do some research and write about him and his amazing journey!

As we all know, Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing man. His birthday was just last week, January 15th. Growing up, he attended Booker T. Washington High School. In those years he skipped two grades due to his intelligence. He started his college years at Morehouse College at the age of 15. Once he had received his degree in sociology from Morehouse, he got a divinity degree from Crozer Seminary, then proceeded to acquire a doctor’s degree in theology from Boston University.

Martin Jr. became a civil rights activist in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. He was a leader of non-violent protests that fought for the rights of all people, including African Americans.One of his first major civil rights action was when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rosa Parks had started this when she refused to give up her seat to a white male. Martin put together a boycott of the public transportation system in Montgomery as a result to that event.

Martin wanted America, and the rest of the world, to become a colorblind society. He wanted it to be a world where race would not impact a person’s civil rights. In 1964, the Civil Rights act was passed. It made discrimination illegal, and said that is is illegal to have different voter registration requirements due to race. Even after this law was passed, some states made it difficult for black people to vote.

In Martin Jr.’s last years of life, he faced criticism from young African-American activists who favored more confrontational ways of getting the change they wanted. These young activists idolized Malcolm X more than Martin Luther King Jr. Malcolm X considered King Jr.’s ways of activism “criminal” due to how the African American people were being repressed.

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, TN. He was shot by James Earl Ray on the balcony of the hotel he was staying at. After he was shot, he was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where he passed away.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an incredible man, with a big brain and an even bigger heart. I am very glad that all of his efforts – dedicated to the dream of everyone having the same civil rights – paid off, and continue to pay off. I feel very fortunate for the world that I live in. Without people like Martin Luther King Jr., I would not be able to say that.

Kiara Poitra

Receptionist & Events Coordinator

Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau