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Dr. King's Legacy

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Chronology of
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 


1929

 

January 15

Martin Luther King, Jr. is born to Rev. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Sr. (former Alberta Christine Williams) in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

1935 – 1944

 

Dr. King attends David T. Howard Elementary School, Atlanta University Laboratory School, and Booker T. Washington High

School. He passes the entrance examination to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia without graduating from high school.

 

1947

 

Dr. King is licensed to preach.

 

1948

 

February 25

Dr. King is ordained to the Baptist ministry and appointed associate pastor at Ebenezer.

 

June 8

Dr. King graduates from Morehouse College with a BA degree in Sociology.

September

Dr. King enters Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. After hearing Dr. A. J. Muste and Dr. Mordecai W. Johnson preach on the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, he begins to study Gandhi seriously.

 

1951

 

May 6-8

Dr. King graduates from Crozer with a Bachelor of Divinity degree.

 

1953

 

June 18

Dr. King marries Coretta Scott in Marion, Alabama.

 

1954

 

May 17

The Supreme Court of the United States rules unanimously in Brown vs. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

 

October 31

Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. appoints Dr. King as the twentieth pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

 

1955

 

June 5

Dr. King receives a Ph.D. degree in Systematic Theology from Boston University.

 

November 17

The Kings’ first child, Yolanda Denise, is born in Montgomery, Alabama.

 

December 1

Mrs. Rosa Parks, a forty-two year old Montgomery seamstress, refuses to relinquish her bus seat to a white man and is arrested.

 

December 5

The first day of the Montgomery bus boycott and the trial date of Mrs. Parks. A meeting of movement leaders is held. Dr. King is unanimously elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association.

 

December 10

The Montgomery Bus Company suspends service in black neighborhoods.

 

1956

 

January 26

Dr. King is arrested on a charge of traveling thirty miles per hour in a twenty-five miles per hour zone in Montgomery. He is released on his own recognizance.

 

January 30

A bomb is thrown onto the porch of Dr. King’s Montgomery home. Mrs. King and Mrs. Roscoe Williams, wife of a church member, are in the house with baby Yolanda Denise. No one is injured.

 

February 2

A suit is filed in Federal District Court asking that Montgomery’s travel segregation laws be declared unconstitutional.

 

February 21

Dr. King is indicted with other figures in the Montgomery bus boycott on the charge of being party to a conspiracy to hinder and prevent the operation of business without “just or legal cause.”

 

June 4

A United States District Court rules that racial segregation on city bus lines is unconstitutional.

 

August 10

Dr. King is a speaker before the platform committee of the Democratic Party in Chicago, Illinois.

 

October 30

Mayor Gayle of Montgomery, Alabama instructs the city’s legal department “to file such proceedings as it may deem proper to stop the operation of car pools and transportation systems growing out of the boycott.”

 

November 13

The United States Supreme Court affirms the decision of the three-judge district court in declaring Alabama’s state and local laws requiring segregation on buses unconstitutional.

 

December 20

Federal injunctions prohibiting segregation on buses are served on city and bus company officials in Montgomery, Alabama. Injunctions are also served on state officials.

 ontgomery buses are integrated.

 

1957

 

January 27

An unexploded bomb is discovered on the front porch of the King’s house.

 

February 14

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is founded.

 

February 18

Dr. King is featured on the cover of Time magazine.

 

May 17

Dr. King delivers a speech for the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom celebrating the third anniversary of the Supreme Court’s desegregation decision. The speech, titled, “Give Us The Ballot,” is given at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

 

June 13

Dr. King meets with the Vice President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon.

September

President Dwight D. Eisenhower federalizes the Arkansas National Guard to escort nine Negro students to an all-white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas.

 

September 9

The first Civil Rights Act since Reconstruction is passed by Congress, creating the Civil Rights Commission and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

 

October 23

A second child, Martin Luther III, is born to Dr. and Mrs. King.

 

1958

 

June 23

Dr. King, along with Roy Wilkins of the NAACP, A. Philip Randolph, and Lester Granger meet with President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

 

September 3

Dr. King is arrested on a charge of loitering (later changed to “failure to obey an officer”) in the vicinity of the Montgomery Recorder’s Court. He is released on $100.00 bond.

 

September 4

Dr. King is convicted after pleading “Not Guilty” on the charge of failure to obey an officer. The fine is paid almost immediately, over Dr. King’s objection, by Montgomery Police Commissioner Clyde C. Sellers.

 

September 17

Dr. King’s book, Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, is published by Harper & Row.

 

September 20

Dr. King is stabbed in the chest by Mrs. Izola Curry, who is subsequently alleged to be mentally deranged. The stabbing occurs in Harlem, New York while Dr. King is autographing his recently published book. His condition was said to be serious but not critical.

 

1959

 

January 30

Dr. King meets with Walter Reuther, President of the United Auto Workers Union, in Detroit, Michigan.

 

February 2 - 10

Dr. and Mrs. King spend a month in India studying Gandhi’s March techniques of nonviolence as guests of Prime Minister Jawaharal Nehru.

 

1960

 

January 24

The King family moves to Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. King becomes co-pastor, with his father, of the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

 

February 1

The first lunch counter sit-in to desegregate eating facilities is held by students in Greensboro, North Carolina.

 

February 17

A warrant is issued for Dr. King’s arrest on charges that he had falsified his 1956 and 1958 Alabama state income tax returns.

 

April 15

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) is founded to coordinate student protests at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina on a temporary basis. (It is to become a permanent organization in October 1960.) Dr. King and James Lawson are the keynote speakers at the Shaw University founding.

 

May 28

Dr. King is acquitted of the tax evasion charge by an all white jury in Montgomery, Alabama.

 

June 10

Dr. King and A. Philip Randolph announce plans for picketing both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

 

June 24

Dr. King meets with John F. Kennedy (candidate for President of the United States) about racial matters.

 

October 19

Dr. King is arrested at an Atlanta sit-in and is jailed on a charge of violating the state’s trespassing law.

 

October 22 - 27

The trespassing charges are dropped. All jailed demonstrators are released except Dr. King, who is held on a charge of violating a probated sentence in a traffic arrest case. He is transferred to the Dekalb County Jail in Decatur, Georgia, and is then transferred to the Reidsville State Prison. He is released from the Reidsville State Prison on a $2,000.00 bond.

 

1961

 

January 30

A third child, Dexter Scott, is born to Dr. and Mrs. King in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

May 4

The first group of Freedom Riders, with the intent of integrating interstate buses, leaves Washington, D.C. by Greyhound bus. The group, organized by the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE), leaves shortly after the Supreme Court has outlawed segregation in interstate transportation terminals. The bus is burned outside of Anniston, Alabama on May 14. A mob beats the Freedom Riders upon their arrival in Birmingham, Alabama. The Freedom Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, and spend forty to sixty days in Parchman Penitentiary.

 

December 15

Dr. King arrives in Albany, Georgia in response to a call from Dr. W. G. Anderson, the leader of the Albany Movement to desegregate public facilities, which began in January 1961.

 

December 16

Dr. King is arrested at an Albany, Georgia demonstration. He is charged with obstructing the sidewalk and parading without a permit.

 

1962

 

February 27

Dr. King is tried and convicted for leading the December march in Albany, Georgia.

 

May 2

Dr. King is invited to join the protests in Birmingham, Alabama.

 

July 27

Dr. King is arrested at an Albany, Georgia city hall prayer vigil and jailed on charges of failure to obey a police officer, obstructing the sidewalk and disorderly conduct.

 

September 20

James Meredith makes his first attempt to enroll at the University of Mississippi. He is actually enrolled by Supreme Court order and is escorted onto the Oxford, Mississippi campus by U.S. Marshals on October 1, 1962.

 

October 16

Dr. King meets with President John F. Kennedy at the White House for a one-hour conference.

 

1963

 

March 28

The King’s fourth child, Bernice Albertine, is born.

 

March-April

Sit-in demonstrations are held in Birmingham, Alabama to protest segregation of eating facilities. Dr. King is arrested during a demonstration.

 

April 16

Dr. King writes the “Letter From A Birmingham Jail” while imprisoned for demonstrating.

 

May 3 - 5

Eugene “Bull” Connor, Director of Public Safety of Birmingham, Alabama, orders the use of police dogs and fire hoses against the marching protesters, including young adults and children.

 

May 20

The Supreme Court of the United States rules Birmingham, Alabama’s segregation ordinances unconstitutional.

 

June

Dr. King’s book, Strength To Love, is published by Harper & Row.

 

June 11

Governor George C. Wallace tries to stop the court ordered integration of the University of Alabama by “standing in the schoolhouse door” and personally refusing entrance to black students and Justice Department officials. President John F. Kennedy then federalizes the Alabama National Guard, and Governor Wallace removes himself from blocking the entrance of the Negro students.

 

June 12

Medgar Evers, NAACP leader in Jackson, Mississippi, is assassinated at his home in the early morning darkness. His memorial service is held in Jackson on June 15. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C. on June 19.

 

August 28

The March on Washington, the first large-scale integrated protest march, is held in Washington, D.C. Dr. King delivers his “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Afterwards he and other Civil Rights leaders meet with President John F. Kennedy in the White House.

 

September 2-10

Governor Wallace orders the Alabama state troopers to stop the court ordered integration of Alabama’s elementary and high schools until he is enjoined by court injunction from doing so. By September 10 specific schools are actually integrated by court order.

 

September 15

Four young girls are killed in a Birmingham, Alabama church bombing.

 

November 22

President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.

 

1964

 

Summer

COFO (Council of Federated Organizations) initiates the Mississippi Summer Project, a voter registration drive organized and run by black and white students.

 

May - June

Dr. King joins other SCLC workers in a demonstration for the integration of public accommodations in St. Augustine, Florida. He is jailed.

 

June

Dr. King’s book, Why We Can’t Wait, is published by Harper & Row.

 

June 21

Three civil rights workers, James Chaney (black), Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner (both white), are reported missing after a short trip to Philadelphia, Mississippi.

 

July 2

Dr. King attends the signing of the Public Accommodations Bill, (Part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) by President Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House.

 

July 18-23

Riots occur in Harlem, New York. One black man is killed.

 

August

Riots occur in New Jersey, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

 

August 4

The bodies of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner are discovered by FBI Agents buried near the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi. Neshoba County Sheriff Rainey and his deputy, Cecil Price, are allegedly implicated in the murders.

 

September

Dr. King and Rev. Ralph Abernathy visit West Berlin at the invitation of Mayor Willy Brandt.

 

September 18

Dr. King has an audience with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican.

 

December 10

Dr. King receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

 

1965

 

February 21

Malcolm X, leader of the Organization of Afro-American Unity and former Black Muslim leader, is murdered in New York City.

 

March 7

A group of marching demonstrators (from SNCC and SCLC) led by SCLC’s Hosea Williams are beaten when crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge on their planned march to Montgomery, Alabama, from Selma, Alabama. Their attackers were state highway patrolmen under the direction of Al Lingo and sheriff’s deputies under the leadership of Jim Clark. An order by Governor Wallace had prohibited the march.

 

March 9

Unitarian minister, James Reeb, is beaten by four white segregationists in Selma. He dies two days later.

 

March 15

President Johnson addresses the nation and Congress. He describes the voting rights bill he will submit to Congress in two days and uses the slogan of the Civil Rights Movement, “We Shall Overcome.”

 

March 16

Sheriff’s deputies and police on horseback in Montgomery, Alabama beat black and white demonstrators.

 

March 21 – 25

Over three thousand protest marchers leave Selma for a march to Montgomery, Alabama protected by federal troops. They are joined along the way by a total of twenty-five thousand marchers. Upon reaching the capitol, they hear an address by Dr. King.

 

March 25

Mrs. Viola Liuzzo, wife of a Detroit Teamsters Union business agent, is shot and killed while driving a carload of marchers back to Selma.

 

July

Dr. King visits Chicago, Illinois. SCLC joins with the Coordinating Council of Community Organizations (CCCO), led by Al Raby, in the Chicago Project.

 

August - December

In Alabama, SCLC spearheads voter registration campaigns in Green and Wilcox counties, and in the cities of Montgomery, Birmingham, and Eutaw, Alabama.

 

August 6

The 1965 Voting Rights Act is signed by President Johnson.

 

August 11-16

In Watts, the black ghetto of Los Angeles, riots leave a total of thirty-five dead. Twenty-eight are black.

 

1966

 

February

Dr. King rents an apartment in the black ghetto of Chicago, Illinois.

 

February 23

Dr. King meets with Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Black Muslims, in Chicago.

 

March

Dr. King takes over a Chicago slum building and is sued by its owner.

 

March 25

The Supreme Court of the United States rules all poll tax unconstitutional.

 

Spring

Dr. King tours Alabama to help elect black candidates.

The Alabama Primary is held, and for the first time since Reconstruction, blacks vote in significant numbers.

 

May 16

An antiwar statement by Dr. King is read at a large Washington rally to protest the war in Vietnam. Dr. King agrees to serve as a co-chairman of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam.

 

June

Stokely Carmichael and Willie Ricks (SNCC) use the slogan “Black Power” in public for the first time before reporters in Greenwood, Mississippi.

 

June 6

James Meredith is shot soon after beginning his 220-mile “March Against Fear” from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi.

 

July 10

Dr. King launches a drive to make Chicago an “open city” regarding housing.

 

August 5

Dr. King is stoned in Chicago as he leads a march through crowds of angry whites in the Gage Park section of Chicago’s southwest side.

 

September

SCLC launches a project with the aim of integrating schools in Grenada, Mississippi.

 

Fall

SCLC initiates the Alabama Citizen Education Project in Wilcox County.

 

1967

 

January

Dr. King writes his book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? while in Jamaica.

 

March 12

Alabama is ordered to desegregate all public schools.

 

March 25

Dr. King attacks the government’s Vietnam policy in a speech at the Chicago Coliseum.

 

April 4

Dr. King makes a statement about the war in Vietnam, “Beyond Vietnam,” at the Riverside Church in New York City.

 

May 10-11

One black student is killed in a riot on the campus of all Negro Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi.

 

July 6

The Justice Department reports that more than 50 percent of all eligible black voters are registered in Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina.

 

July 12-17

Twenty-three people die and 725 are injured in riots in Newark, New Jersey.

 

July 23-30

Forty-three die and 324 are injured in the Detroit riots -- the worst of the century.

 

July 26

Black leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr., A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young appeal for an end to the riots, “which have proved ineffective and damaging to the civil rights cause and the entire nation.”

 

October 30

The Supreme Court upholds the contempt-of-court convictions of Dr. King and seven other black leaders who led the 1963 marches in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. King and his aides enter jail to serve four-day sentences.

 

November 27

Dr. King announces the formation by SCLC of a Poor People’s Campaign, with the aim of representing the problems of poor blacks and whites.

 

1968

 

February 12

Sanitation workers strike in Memphis, Tennessee.

 

March 28

Dr. King leads six thousand protesters on a march through downtown Memphis in support of striking sanitation workers. Disorder breaks out during which black youths loot stores. One sixteen-year-old is killed and fifty people are injured.

 

April 3

Dr. King’s last speech titled “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” is delivered at Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee.

 

April 4

Dr. King is assassinated as he stands talking on the balcony of his second-floor room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. He dies in St. Joseph’s Hospital from a gunshot wound in the neck.

 

April 9

Dr. King is buried in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

June 5

Presidential candidate Senator Robert Kennedy is shot in Los Angeles and dies the next day.

 

1986

 

January 18

Following passage of Public Law 98-144, President Ronald Reagan signs a proclamation declaring the third Monday in January of each year a public holiday in honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

1999


December 8

A jury of twelve citizens of Memphis, Shelby County, TN concluded in Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, III, Bernice King, Dexter Scott King and Yolanda King Vs. Loyd Jowers and Other Unknown Conspirators that Loyd Jowers and governmental agencies including the City of Memphis, the State of Tennessee, and the federal government were party to the conspiracy to assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

     
 

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