28 Jan

Map of the Week: Tracing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Footsteps

By Christina Lin

Last week Monday, the US observed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day where most reflect on the work that still needs to be done for racial equality. King was a civil rights leader, best known for his contribution in ending racial segregation in the United States. King traveled around the United States leading the fight for racial equality as seen in the map published by the AARP, which noted down nine important locations in King’s lifetime. The article gave a detailed account of the significance of these nine locations, some of which will be briefly summarized below.

King was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929. He was baptized at 7 at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in his hometown. King delivered his first public speech at 15 years old at the Colored Elks Clubs of Georgia in Dublin, titled “The Negro and the Constitution.” King served as an associate pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church when he was 19 years old and twenty-four years later, he became co-pastor with his father.

At the American Baptist seminary in Upland, Pennsylvania King graduated in 1951 as class president and valedictorian with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. When he started in the fall of 1948, he was one of only 11 black students at the school. There King honed his belief in the “social gospel,” the importance of addressing economic insecurity, and was introduced to the concept of pacifism.

In Montgomery, Alabama King became a full time pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in 1954 and served there until 1959. He helped start the Montgomery Improvement Association that organized the 13-month Montgomery bus boycott. The church was designated a national historic landmark in 1974 and its name was changed in Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in 1978. In the same state, King and fellow Baptist ministers Ralph Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth were arrested in Birmingham for protesting without a permit in 1963. It was there at the Birmingham City Jail where King wrote his “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

At the Lincoln Memorial located in Washington, DC King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to over 250,000 civil rights supporters during the March on Washington in 1963. In 2003, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of King’s address, an inscription was engraved in the granite steps to mark the place where King stood to give his speech, about 18 steps from the top landing of the Lincoln Memorial.

To read more about King’s journey, click here.