Dear faithful members and friends of St. Edward the Martyr,
Monday, January 18, 2021 marks the annual celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968). We invite the people of this Parish to take time to reflect on what his life and message means on a personal level, and to engage in acts of education, kindness and service to commemorate Dr. King's legacy.
Martin Luther King, Jr., attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of 15; he received a B.A. degree from Morehouse College. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary, he was awarded a B.D. in 1951. He went on to complete graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955. In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, and together they had two sons and two daughters.
In 1954, Dr. King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In December 1955, Dr. King led the bus boycott, which was one of the first great nonviolent demonstrations for equality in the United States. After 382 days of boycotting, on December 21, 1956, the Supreme Court of the United States declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses. Although the outcome of the boycott was successful, Dr. King endured unthinkable challenges: he was arrested, his home was bombed, and he was subjected to personal abuse.
In 1957, he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity. In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over 6 million miles and spoke over 2500 times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protect and action; and meanwhile, he wrote five books, as well as numerous articles. In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience, and inspiring his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", a manifesto of the Negro revolution. He planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Black voters and directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his most famous address, "I Have a Dream." Throughout this time, Dr. King was an advisor to President John F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson and was awarded five honorary degrees and named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963.
His message of justice and equality resonated around the world, and at age 35, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.
On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, Dr. King was assassinated.
Dr. King's legacy will live on eternally in our hearts and minds.