Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (c. 1964) / Photo Credit: Evening Standard / Stringer
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was welcomed to the world 93 years ago, and he left behind a legacy that continues to impact the lives of millions of Americans. With his unwavering, nonviolent stance in the fight for civil rights, Dr. King inspired many to advocate for Black Americans during a pivotal time in history.
With his strength and charisma, Dr. King played a significant part in dismantling Jim Crow Laws and passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He continued to be involved in social justice initiatives—such as economic reform and anti-Vietnam War campaigns—until his tragic assassination in 1968.
He Began Attending Morehouse At Just 15 Years Old
Dr. King was quite precocious growing up, as he began taking college courses back in 1944 at the young age of 15. He specifically began attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, which was the alma mater of both his father and grandfather.
While attending the prestigious university, Dr. King and other students were notably urged by the then-president—Dr. Benjamin E. Mays—to be “sensitive to the wrongs, the sufferings and the injustices of society” and “accept responsibility for correcting these ills.”
Happy Martin Luther King Day !
Fun Fact: Did you know that MLK entered college at age 15? He attended Morehouse which was also the alma mater of his father and grandfather! pic.twitter.com/l6IY3hTjFk
— Black Women Empowered (@BWESHSU) January 18, 2021
He Was An Assistant Pastor While Earning His Sociology Degree
Upon his 1948 graduation, Dr. King had earned a sociology degree while still in his teens. He was inspired to follow in his father’s ministry footsteps about a year before this after taking a Bible class.
Resultingly, he began the process of becoming ordained. By the time he graduated from Morehouse, he was already an assistant pastor. Talk about having a job lined up for right after graduation!
What can you do with a #sociology degree?
— Dr. Rashawn Ray (@SociologistRay) January 18, 2021
He Was Deeply Involved In Extracurricular Activities
Aside from his studies and religious pursuits, Dr. King was also busy with an array of extracurriculars. In 1947, he published an essay titled “The Purpose of Education” in the Morehouse student newspaper, The Maroon Tiger.
Additionally, he was also active in the Atlanta-based university’s debate team, student council, and minister’s union, and he was involved with a YMCA basketball team. Dr. King was a well-rounded student who enjoyed keeping a lot on his plate.
I love this MLK quote so much it’s featured in my book. But read the whole (short) article he wrote in college for his campus newspaper in 1947 about the purpose of education. It is prescient and speaks to what is happening today: https://t.co/F9APe2vWZy pic.twitter.com/A0ehriKo6v
— Francis Su (@mathyawp) January 18, 2021
He Began Fighting For Civil Rights As A Teenage Undergrad
It’s also worth acknowledging that Dr. King‘s tireless fight for civil rights began as an undergrad.
When he was 17 years old, the killing of five Black Georgia natives, including a woman who was 7-months pregnant, inspired Dr. King to decry this violence in a letter to the editor of The Atlanta Constitution.
The piece, titled “Kick Up Dust,” is a powerful insight into the civil rights champion Dr. King would become in later years.
— JOSHUA (@JournoJoshua) January 21, 2019
He Earned A Second Bachelor’s From A Theology School
After finishing up his studies at Morehouse, Dr. King pursued a second bachelor’s degree from Crozer Theological Seminary near Philadelphia. While attending the institution, Dr. King became the class president and valedictorian.
He became romantically involved with a white woman during his seminary studies. The woman was specifically a German cafeteria worker, and—despite their strong feelings for each other—they eventually broke up due to the stigma against their interracial relationship.
MLK at Penn: While studying at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pa., in the late 1940s, Martin Luther King Jr. traveled to Penn often, auditing three philosophy courses. https://t.co/kg4eu1tSAL pic.twitter.com/Tb85WACdX4
— Penn (@Penn) April 4, 2018
He Earned His Ph.D. In Systematic Theology From Boston University
In 1955, Dr. King graduated with his Ph.D. from Boston University. His doctoral degree was in the field of systematic theology, and his dissertation was titled “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”
A lot of people say “MLK” without the acknowledgement of the fact that he earned a doctorate degree from Boston University in 1955.
He was a scholar and a trained researcher. The “Dr.” in his title wasn’t just for show. He earned it. pic.twitter.com/o2KpyD1ch2
— L E F T, PhD ️ (@LeftSentThis) January 21, 2020
Let’s continue to celebrate Dr. King’s accomplishments and personage this MLK Day and beyond.
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