Marine Corps Logistics Base, Calif. --
Thirty years ago, Congress recognized a man who had a dream …
A dream where everybody would be treated the same, a dream that one day all people, regardless of the color of their skin, would be treated equally and with respect. He hoped that children of all color would be judged for who they are on the inside and not what they look like on the outside.
In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about his dream of equal rights after a peaceful march in Washington D.C.
Growing up as the middle child in Atlanta, Ga., King accomplished more than most African Americans at the time.
He went to public schools and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta in 1944, at the age of fifteen. He then attended Morehouse College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1948. The college at the time was a distinguished Negro institution in Atlanta. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, he was awarded a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951. Then, King enrolled in Boston University where he earned his doctorate, according to nobelprize.org.
In 1954, King became a pastor for the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. He also became a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation. Years later, the NAACP elected King as the leader of the first great Negro non-violent demonstration in the United States, the bus boycott. The boycott was started because an African American woman by the name of Rosa Parks did not want to move out of her seat for a white man while riding on the bus. Subsequently, Parks was arrested and thrown in jail. The boycott lasted 382 days, according to nobelprize.org.
On December 21, 1956, the Supreme Court of the United States declared that the laws requiring segregation on buses were unconstitutional.
Due to King’s actions and his strong commitment for equal rights among all men and women, he stood out from others. In 1957, he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the civil rights movement. King traveled more than six million miles and spoke more than twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action, according to thekingcenter.org.
Throughout his journey, King was arrested approximately twenty times and assaulted at least four. He was awarded five honorary degrees and was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963.
At the age of thirty-five, he was the youngest man ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. King was recognized for his non-violent campaigns and his dedication to the rights of African Americans, according to drmartinlutherking.net.
According to biography.com, April 3, 1968, while standing on a balcony outside his room of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., King was shot with a sniper rifle by James Earl Ray.
Decades later, men and women of all color, religion and backgrounds come together and remember the man who changed the course of history and broke the racial barrier between blacks and whites.