Dexter Avenue

 

            Eventually when Martin Luther King was ready to begin a vocation and start to go to work on the problems that he saw with the world, it was as a pastor in Montgomery, Alabama.  In 1953, King took over as Pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.  He did not know where this would take him, or that it would take him to the pinnacle of the public eye in America.[1]

            King would not become known nationally as pastor of his church but instead as organizer of a bus boycott.  “On Thursday, 1 December 1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks, a 42 year old black seamstress at a downtown Montgomery department store, and a respected member of the NAACP, was arrested for violating the city’s segregated transportation ordinance by refusing to relinquish her bus seat to a white man.”[2]  Not only does this show that Rosa Parks may not have had this calculated but also it shows that she was able to attract a crowd with her credentials with the NAACP.  Nevertheless, Martin Luther King organized a peaceful protest of the public buses in Montgomery for two years.  This declaration of non-violence on the part of blacks often came in the face of a threat of violence from the whites.[3]

            After the successful bus boycott, King was elected President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.[4]  It was from this post that he would come to a more national prominence and begin the nationwide civil rights movement.  This all culminated with his “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington in 1963.[5]  Martin’s true thoughts on the march were captured when he said, “It was an army into which no one had been drafted, it was white and Negro, and of all ages…It was a fighting army, but no one should mistake that its most powerful weapon was love.”[6]  This kind of talk would also lend itself to some foreshadowing of his stance on the Vietnam war which would take him out of the graces of some of his former constituents.  

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[1] Russel Moldovan, “Martin Luther King Jr., “ Christian History,  Issue 65, volume XIX, 38.

[2] James Colaiaco, Martin Luther King Jr., (London: MacMillan Press, 1988), 5.

[3] Moldovan, “Martin Luther King Jr., 39.

[4] Colaiaco, Martin Luther King Jr., 7.

[5] Coretta Scott King, The Martin Luther King Jr. Companion,  (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 21.

[6] Ibid. 21.