In which U.S. state is Morehouse College, the historically Black university that Martin Luther King Jr. attended?

And the answer: Georgia.
Photo credit: public domain. 

Martin Luther King Jr. attended the private, historically Black Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia from 1944–1948. He enrolled at the young age of 15, and graduated at 19 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Following his graduation, King additionally achieved a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, and later, a PhD in Systemic Theology from Boston University.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential voices of the 20th century. Originally named Michael Luther King Jr., his father decided to make the formal change after traveling to Berlin to attend the Baptist World Alliance meeting. King Sr. was inspired by the theologian Martin Luther, whose 95 Theses challenged the Catholic Church and ultimately split western Christianity. Soon after returning to the states, he formally changed his and his son’s name to Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr., respectively.

From a very young age, King Jr. displayed remarkable intelligence and acuity, as well as a sharp resentment for the unjust conditions of segregation. The summer before leaving for college (at age 15), King traveled to Connecticut to work on a tobacco farm; it was his first experience in the North. In a letter to his parents, he wrote:

“Negroes and whites go [to] the same church. I never [thought] that a person of my race could eat anywhere.”

By the time King had received his doctorate from Boston University in 1955, his name was already at the forefront of the fight against segregation. In opposition to the 1955 arrest of Rosa Parks, a group of young activists formed the Montgomery Improvement Association—an organization created to boycott the Montgomery bus system’s segregation—and elected King as their leader. In his very first speech as the group’s president, King remarked:

“We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”

Throughout his life, King continued to refuse to settle for anything less. His leadership was ultimately fundamental to the success of the Civil Rights Movement, and in ending legal segregation in the southern United States. As head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King championed nonviolent tactics to achieve civil rights, such as the March on Washington in 1963. King received the Nobel Peace Prize for his activism in 1964.

Did you know?

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Although the first bill proposed to create a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. fell short of passing through the House of Representatives, musician Stevie Wonder released the single "Happy Birthday" to popularize the campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. As a result, six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law, termed by one 2006 article as "the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history.” Learn more about Martin Luther King Jr. here.


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