Everybody Can Be Great

“Everybody can be great because everyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love,” Martin Luther King Jr.

Dates in the life of MLK


Jan. 15: Michael King is born in Atlanta. His father changes the boy’s name, as well as his own, to Martin Luther King several years later.


Sept. 20: King enrolls at Morehouse College after passing the entrance exam at age 15.


Aug. 6: The Atlanta Constitution publishes a letter to the editor from King supporting minority rights.


Feb. 25: King is ordained and becomes assistant pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, his father’s church.

June 8: King graduates from Morehouse College with bachelor’s degree in sociology.

Sept. 14: King enters Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pa.


May 8: King graduates from Crozer with bachelor of divinity degree. He delivers valedictory address.

Sept. 13: King begins graduate studies in systematic theology at Boston University’s School of Theology.


January: King meets Coretta Scott in Boston.


June 18: King and Coretta Scott are married near Marion, Ala. King’s father officiates at the service.


Sept. 1: King begins his pastorate at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.


June 5: King earns doctorate from Boston University.

Dec. 5: King is named president of the Montgomery Improvement Association.


Jan. 30: King’s home is bombed while he is speaking at a meeting. His wife and daughter are unharmed.


Jan. 10: King is named chairman of what becomes the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

Feb. 18: King appears on the cover of Time magazine.

May 17: King delivers his first national address, “Give Us the Ballot,” at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.


June 23: King and other civil rights leaders meet with President Dwight Eisenhower in Washington.

Sept. 20: At a book signing in Harlem, King is stabbed with a letter opener  by a mentally ill woman. Doctors remove the seven-inch blade from his chest.


Feb. 1: King moves from Montgomery to Atlanta to focus on the civil rights struggle.

Oct. 19: King is arrested at a sit-in demonstration at an Atlanta department store. He is sentenced to four months of hard labor — for violating a suspended sentence in a 1956 traffic violation. He is released on $2,000 bond.


Dec. 16: King and hundreds of others are arrested in desegregation campaign in Albany, Ga.


July 27: King is arrested at a prayer vigil in Albany and spends two weeks in jail. He leaves Aug. 10.

Sept. 28: A member of the American Nazi Party hits King in the face twice at an SCLC conference in Birmingham.


April 16: After being arrested for ignoring an Alabama state court injunction against demonstrations, King writes his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, a defense of nonviolent resistance to racism.

Aug. 28: King delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial as more than 200,000 demonstrators take part in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Sept. 15: Four girls are killed when a bomb explodes at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Sept. 18: King delivers eulogy for three of the slain girls.


Jan. 3: Time magazine names King “Man of the Year” for 1963.

June 11: King and 17 others are jailed for trespassing after demanding service at a whites-only restaurant in St. Augustine, Fla.

Dec. 10: King wins Nobel Peace Prize.


March 17-25: After voting rights marchers are attacked and beaten by police in Selma, Ala., King peacefully leads civil rights marchers from Selma to Montgomery.

Aug. 11: Rioting in the Watts section of Los Angeles leads King to address economic inequality.

Aug. 12: King gives his first speech against the Vietnam War.


Jan. 26: King and his wife move into a Chicago slum apartment to demand better housing and education in northern U.S. cities.


April 4: In speech at a New York City church, King demands U.S. make greater effort to end Vietnam War.

Dec. 4: King unveils plans for a Poor People’s Campaign, a mass civil disobedience protest, for the spring in Washington. It was intended as an expansion of his civil rights activities into the area of economic rights.


March 23: King leads 6,000 protesters in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis. The march ends with violence and looting.

April 3: King returns to Memphis, intending to lead a peaceful march. At an evening rally, he delivers his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

April 4: King is shot and killed on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

April 9: King is buried in Atlanta.

Source: USA Today, Feb. 2, 2018

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