Stanford University The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
King Major Events Chronology 1929-1968

Major King Events Chronology: 1929-1968


1929

15 January

Michael King, later known as Martin Luther King, Jr., is born at 501 Auburn Ave. in Atlanta, Georgia.

1941

Summer

The King family -- Martin Luther King, Sr. (Daddy King), Alberta Williams King, Willie Christine King, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Alfred Daniel Williams King (known as A. D. King) -- moves from 501 Auburn Avenue to 193 Boulevard in Atlanta.


1944

20 September

King begins his freshman year at Morehouse College in Atlanta.


1946

6 August

The Atlanta Constitution publishes King’s letter to the editor stating that black people "are entitled to the basic rights and opportunities of American citizens."


1948

25 February

King is ordained and appointed assistant pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

8 June

King receives his bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Morehouse College.

14 September

King begins his studies at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania.


1951

6-8 May

King graduates from Crozer with a bachelor of divinity degree, delivering the valedictory address at commencement.

13 September

King begins his graduate studies in systematic theology at Boston University.


1953

18 June

King and Coretta Scott are married at the Scott home near Marion, Alabama.


1954

1 September

King begins his pastorate at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.


1955

5 June

King is awarded his doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University.

17 November

Yolanda Denise King, the Kings’ first child, is born.

1 December

Rosa Parks is arrested for refusing to vacate her seat and move to the rear of a city bus in Montgomery to make way for a white passenger. Jo Ann Robinson and other Women’s Political Council members mimeograph thousands of leaflets calling for a one-day boycott of the city’s buses on Monday, 5 December.

5 December

At a mass meeting at Holt Street Baptist Church, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) is formed. King becomes its president.


1956

27 January

According to King’s later account in Stride Toward Freedom, he receives a threatening phone call late in the evening, prompting a spiritual revelation that fills him with strength to carry on in spite of persecution.

30 January

At 9:15 p.m., while King speaks at a mass meeting, his home is bombed. His wife and daughter are not injured. Later King addresses an angry crowd that gathers outside the house, pleading for nonviolence.

13 November

The U.S. Supreme Court affirms the lower court opinion in Browder v. Gayle declaring Montgomery and Alabama bus segregation laws unconstitutional.

21 December

Montgomery City Lines resumes full service on all routes. King is among the first passengers to ride the buses in an integrated fashion.


1957

10-11 January

Southern black ministers meet in Atlanta to share strategies in the fight against segregation. King is named chairman of the Southern Negro Leaders Conference on Transportation and Nonviolent Integration (later known as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, SCLC).

18 February

King appears on the cover of Time magazine.

6 March

King attends the independence celebrations of the new nation of Ghana in West Africa and meets with Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah.

17 May

At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., King delivers his first national address, "Give Us The Ballot," at the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom.

13 June

King and Ralph D. Abernathy meet with Vice President Richard M. Nixon and issue a statement on their meeting.

23 October

Coretta King gives birth to their second child, Martin, III.


1958

23 June

King and other civil rights leaders meet with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington.

17 September

King’s first book Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story is published.

20 September

During a book signing at Blumstein’s Department Store in Harlem, New York, King is stabbed by Izola Ware Curry. He is rushed to Harlem Hospital where a team of doctors successfully remove a seven-inch letter opener from his chest.


1959

3 February

King embarks on a month-long visit to India where he meets with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and many of Gandhi’s followers.


1960

1 February

King moves from Montgomery to Atlanta to devote more time to SCLC and the freedom struggle. He becomes assistant pastor to his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

25-28 May

King is found not guilty of tax fraud by a white jury in Montgomery.

23 June

King meets privately in New York with Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy.

19 October

King is arrested during a sit-in demonstration at Rich’s department store in Atlanta. He is sentenced to four months hard labor for violating a suspended sentence he received for a 1956 traffic violation. He is released on $2000 bond on 27 October.


1961

31 January

Dexter Scott, King’s third child, is born.

21 May

After the initial group of Freedom Riders seeking to integrate bus terminals are assaulted in Alabama, King addresses a mass rally at a mob-besieged Montgomery church.

16 October

King meets with President John F. Kennedy and urges him to issue a second Emancipation Proclamation to eliminate racial segregation.

16 December

King, Ralph Abernathy, Albany Movement president William G. Anderson, and other protesters are arrested by Laurie Pritchett during a campaign in Albany, Georgia.


1962

27 July-10 August

King is arrested at an Albany, Georgia prayer vigil and jailed. After spending two weeks in jail, King is released.

28 September

During the closing session of the SCLC conference in Birmingham, Alabama, a member of the American Nazi Party assaults King, striking him twice in the face.

1963

28 March

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

16 April

Responding to eight Jewish and Christian clergymen’s advice that African Americans wait patiently for justice, King pens his "Letter from Birmingham Jail." King and Abernathy were arrested on 12 April and released on 19 April.

7 May

Conflict in Birmingham reaches its peak when high-pressure fire hoses force demonstrators from the business district. In addition to hoses, Police Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor employs dogs, clubs, and cattle prods to disperse four thousand demonstrators in downtown Birmingham.

June

Strength to Love, King's book of sermons, is published.

28 August

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom attracts more than two hundred thousand demonstrators to the Lincoln Memorial. Organized by A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, the march is supported by all major civil rights organizations as well as by many labor and religious groups. King delivers his "I Have a Dream" speech.

After the march, King and other civil rights leaders meet with President John F. Kennedy and Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House.

18 September

King delivers the eulogy at the funerals of Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, and Cynthia Dianne Wesley, three of the four children that were killed during the 15 September bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Carole Robertson, the fourth victim, was buried in a separate ceremony.

10 October

U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy authorizes the FBI to wiretap King’s home phone.


1964

3 January

King is named "Man of the Year" by Time Magazine.

18 January

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with King, Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young, and James Farmer and seeks support for his War on Poverty initiative.

9 February

Robert Haylng, leader of the movement in St. Augustine, Florida, invites King and SCLC to join the struggle.

26 March

King meets Malcolm X in Washington, D.C. for the first and only time.

June

King's book Why We Can’t Wait is published.

11 June

King is arrested and jailed for demanding service at a white-only restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida.

20 July

King and SCLC staff launch a People-to-People tour of Mississippi to assist the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in the Mississippi Freedom Summer campaign.

18 November

After King criticizes the FBI’s failure to protect civil rights workers, the agency’s director J. Edgar Hoover denounces King as "the most notorious liar in the country." A week later he states that SCLC is "spearheaded by Communists and moral degenerates."

1 December

King meets with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover at the Justice Department.

10 December

King receives the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway. He declares that "every penny" of the $54,000 award will be used in the ongoing civil rights struggle.


1965

The King family moves to their new home at 234 Sunset Avenue in Atlanta.

7 March

In an event that will become known as "Bloody Sunday," voting rights marchers are beaten at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama as they attempt to march to Montgomery.

17-25 March

King, James Forman, and John Lewis lead civil rights marchers from Selma to Montgomery after a U.S. District judge upholds the right of demonstrators to conduct an orderly march.

12 August

King publicly opposes the Vietnam War at a mass rally at the Ninth Annual Convention of SCLC in Birmingham.


1966

26 January

King and his wife move into an apartment at 1550 South Hamlin Avenue in Chicago to draw attention to the city's poor housing conditions.

23 February

In Chicago, King meets Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.

7 June

King, Floyd McKissick of CORE, and Stokely Carmichael of SNCC resume James Meredith’s "March Against Fear" from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi, after Meredith was shot and wounded near Memphis.


1967

4 April

King delivers "Beyond Vietnam" to a gathering of Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam at Riverside Church in New York City. He demands that the U.S. take new initiatives to end the war.

June

King’s book Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? is published.

4 December

King publicly reveals his plans to organize a mass civil disobedience campaign, the Poor People's Campaign, in Washington, D.C., to force the government to end poverty.

1968

28 March

King leads a march of six thousand protesters in support of striking sanitation workers in Memphis. The march descends into violence and looting, and King is rushed from the scene.

3 April

King returns to Memphis, determined to lead a peaceful march. During an evening rally at Mason Temple in Memphis, King delivers his final speech, "I’ve Been to the Mountaintop."

4 April

King is shot and killed while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

9 April

King is buried in Atlanta.

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