1324 GA Highway 49 South | Americus Georgia 31719

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Peacemakers Series – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Koinonia Farm’s vision statement is “love through service to others, joy through generous hospitality, peace through reconciliation.” All of our guest rooms are named after people who have come before us and embodied these ideas. These peacemakers are from all over the world and from all different periods of history. This “great cloud of witnesses” and their stories encourage us to keep pursuing love, joy, and peace in our life and work.

Dr. King smiling black and white photo

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was born to Rev. Michael King and Alberta King. He came from a long line of Baptist ministers: his grandfather and father were preachers at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. King attended segregated public schools and graduated from high school at age 15. He then went to Morehouse College in Atlanta from 1944-1948. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he studied at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania from 1948-1951. He then attended Boston University from 1951-1955 and received his PhD. During his stay in Boston, he met Coretta Scott and they married in 1953.

In 1954, he and his wife moved to Montgomery, Alabama where King became the pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. King was also a member of the executive committee of the NAACP. When the Montgomery Bus Boycott began in December 1955, King became a leader of the movement. This boycott lasted for over a year and allowed King to use the nonviolent tactics of Gandhi. In December 1956, the segregation of public transportation system in Montgomery was declared unconstitutional. In 1957, King helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was elected president of the organization. He had become a nationally known Civil Rights leader. His first book, Stride toward Freedom, was published in 1958. King and his family were persecuted for his work: his house in Montgomery had been bombed and he survived his first assassination attempt in 1958.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.

King and his family moved to Atlanta in 1960 where he became a minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church. He continued his work with the Civil Rights Movement, which began using sit-ins as another form of protest. King remained true to his nonviolent tactics. In 1963, the Civil Rights Movement and King turned their attention to Birmingham, Alabama. King led a coalition of organizations in massive protests there. In April of that year, King was arrested. While in jail, he penned “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” which was widely read and continues to be studied today. On August 28, 1963, he and others led the March on Washington and King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. The tireless work of the Civil Rights Movement led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. At age 35, Dr. King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1964.

It is not enough to say, “We must not wage war.” It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.

King moved his attention from Civil Rights to poverty and other problems in the North. He worked in Chicago and other areas to fight against poverty. He also spoke out against the Vietnam War. In 1967, he announced the “Poor Peoples Campaign” to alleviate poverty and other urban problems. In the spring of 1968, King went to Memphis to work the sanitation workers on strike there. On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. His commitment to nonviolence and his perseverance in the face of constant and often violent resistance stand as a large part of his legacy. His speeches and writings are still used today as inspiration for other movements.

The arc of the mortal universe is long but it bends toward justice.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr at the March on Washington
Dr. King at the March on Washington

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