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Volume 1: Called to Serve, January 1929-June 1951


Chronology

1810

Willis Williams--one of King, Jr.'s maternal great-grandfathers--is born in Georgia.

1825

February

William Parks--one of King, Jr.'s maternal great-grandfathers--is born in Georgia.

1830

January

Fannie--later wife of William Parks--is born in Georgia.

1840

Lucretia (Creecy)--later wife of Willis Williams--is born in Georgia.

1842 or 1844

Jim Long--one of King, Jr.'s paternal great-grandfathers--is born in Virginia.

1855

Jane Linsey--one of King, Jr.'s paternal great-grandmothers--is born in Henry County, Georgia.

1863

2 January

Adam Daniel (A. D.) Williams--the son of Lucretia and Willis Williams--is born near the town of Penfield in Greene County, Georgia.

1864

December

James Albert King--King, Jr.'s paternal grandfather--is born in Ohio.

1873

April

Jennie Celeste Parks--the daughter of Fannie and William Parks--is born in Atlanta, Georgia.

1874

Willis Williams dies.

1875

July

Delia Linsey--the daughter of Jane Linsey and Jim Long--is born in Henry County, Georgia.

1894

March

A. D. Williams becomes pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, a small and financially troubled church with a congregation of thirteen and no permanent place of worship. Serving as pastor until his death in 1931, Reverend Williams helps build Ebenezer into one of Atlanta's largest and most prominent black churches.

1895

20 August

James Albert King marries Delia Linsey in Stockbridge, Georgia.

1897

19 December

Martin Luther King, Sr.--son of Delia and James Albert King--is born in Stockbridge, Georgia.

1899

29 October

A. D. Williams marries Jennie Celeste Parks in Fulton County, Georgia.

1903

13 September

Alberta Christine Williams--daughter of Jennie Celeste and A. D. Williams--is born in Atlanta.

1926

25 November

Martin Luther King, Sr., marries Alberta Christine Williams at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

1927

27 April

Coretta Scott is born in Heiberger, Alabama. Her parents are Obie and Bernice Scott.

11 September

Willie Christine King--King, Jr.'s sister--is born in Atlanta.

1929

15 January

Martin Luther King, Jr., is born at home, 501 Auburn Avenue, in Atlanta, Georgia.

1930

June

King, Sr., receives bachelor of arts degree in theology from Morehouse College.

30 July

Alfred Daniel Williams King--King, Jr.'s brother, A. D.--is born in Atlanta.

1931

21 March

A. D. Williams dies of a heart attack.

October

King, Sr., is chosen to succeed his father-in-law, A. D. Williams, as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

1932

January

King, Jr., enters nursery school.

April

King, Sr., is officially installed as pastor of Ebenezer.

3 September

King, Sr., attends the National Baptist Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

1933

5 July

King, Sr., attends the first interdenominational institute for black clergymen at Atlanta University.

Fall

King, Jr., enters the first grade at Yonge Street Elementary School with his six-year-old sister, Christine.

18 November

James Albert King dies.

1934

January

King, Jr., reveals to his first-grade teacher that he is only five years old and is expelled from school.

20 January

Atlanta's black Baptists join local white Baptists in inviting the Baptist World Alliance to meet in the city but insist that they will tolerate no segregation at the conference.

March

Atlanta's black public school teachers demand the same pay scale as that of the city's white public school teachers.

King, Sr., is elected first vice president of the Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union.

12 April

King, Jr.'s birth certificate is filed, under the name Michael King.

14 July-10 August

King, Sr., tours the Middle East and Europe with ten other Baptist ministers from the United States. They attend the Baptist World Alliance in Berlin.

4 September

King, Sr., attends the National Baptist Convention in Oklahoma.

24 October

The Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union holds mock elections to instruct potential black voters on voting procedures.

14 November

King, Jr., accompanied by mother, Alberta Williams King, sings at a meeting of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia.

1935

28 January

King, Jr., reenters the first grade at Yonge Street Elementary School and after half a year advances to the second grade.

30 January

King, Sr., stages a protest against the segregation of elevators at the Fulton County Courthouse.

27 March

King, Sr., becomes president of the Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union.

11 April

King, Sr., preaches at a service commemorating the fifty-third anniversary of the Reverend E. R. Carter's ministry at Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta.

11 May

King, Sr., and other leaders of the Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union call for black voter registration.

9 June

King, Sr., is elected president of the Atlanta District Baptist Young Peoples Union and Sunday School Convention.

2 July

King, Sr., becomes acting moderator of the Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association.

August-September

King, Sr., and the Atlanta branch of the NAACP lead a voter registration drive in anticipation of a local school bond referendum.

3 September

King, Sr., attends the National Baptist Convention in New York.

11 September

King, Jr., enters the second grade at Yonge Street Elementary School.

17 October

King, Sr., is elected moderator of the Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association.

1936

7 January

King, Sr., is reelected president of the Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union.

26 February

King, Sr., is chosen to lead the NAACP membership drive in Atlanta.

 

6 March

King, Sr., joins other speakers in addressing a mass meeting of the NAACP at Wheat Street Baptist Church.


9 April

King, Sr., addresses the annual Lenten service at the Butler Street YMCA, speaking on "The Compelling Vision of the Kingdom of God."


3 May

King, Jr., is baptized after Ebenezer's two-week annual revival, led by guest evangelist Rev. H. H. Coleman of Macedonia Baptist Church in Detroit.


1 June

King, Sr., steps down as president of the Atlanta District Baptist Young Peoples Union and Sunday School Convention.

21-26 July

King, Sr., attends the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Augusta.

8 September

King, Jr., enters the third grade at Atlanta's David T. Howard Colored Elementary Schoo


11 September

King, Sr., has an automobile accident en route to the National Baptist Convention in Jacksonville, Florida. His mother-in-law, Jennie Celeste Parks Williams, suffers minor injuries.


4 November

Howard Thurman, dean of the chapel at Howard University, addresses Morehouse students on Mahatma Gandhi's campaign against British imperialism in India.

1937


King, Jr., begins delivering the Atlanta Journal.

March

King, Sr., completes term as president of the Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union.


September

Alberta Williams King initiates a series of annual musicals by Ebenezer's choirs.


4 September

King, Sr., and Alberta Williams King attend the National Baptist Convention in Los Angeles, California.


10 September

King, Jr., enters the fourth grade at Howard Elementary School.


10 November

Robed Ku Klux Klansmen parade on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta.


19 November

King, Sr., is defeated by the Reverend L. A. Pinkston of Augusta in a bid for the presidency of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia. Six months earlier, Pinkston was the visiting evangelist at Ebenezer's spring revival.

1938


2 February

King, Sr., speaks at Atlanta's annual Lincoln-Douglas Day celebration.


2 March

King, Sr., is elected to the executive committee of the Atlanta Civic and Political League and pledges to seek the support of black ministers for the League's voter registration drive.


20 March

The Reverend Melvin Watson delivers the anniversary sermon, which culminates the weeklong celebration of Ebenezer's fifty-first anniversary.


3 May

King, Sr., speaks at a meeting of the Atlanta Civic and Political League.


June

Alberta Williams King graduates from Morris Brown College with a bachelor of arts degree.


7 June

King, Sr., again urges black ministers to cooperate with voter registration efforts at a meeting of the Atlanta Civic and Political League at Ebenezer.


4 September

The Atlanta Civic and Political League issues a report criticizing the inadequate facilities of the city's black schools.


10 September

King, Jr., enters the fifth grade at Howard Elementary School.


October

The Atlanta Civic and Political League and the Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association lead black opposition to the passage of a school bond issue that provides inadequate funds for black schools. The bond issue is defeated in November.


5 December

King, Sr., is reappointed to the executive committee of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP.

1939


1 April

King, Sr., is the featured speaker for father's night at Howard Elementary School.


7 April

King, Sr., is elected president of the Atlanta Ministers Council, an interdenominational organization of ministers dedicated to fighting "the Negroes' battles along civic, political, and educational lines."


June

King, Sr., makes an extended tour of the western states following the National Baptist Sunday School and Young Peoples Union Congress in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


July

King, Sr., attends the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia in Savannah.

22-28 July

King, Sr., chairs the committee on local arrangements as Atlanta hosts the quadrennial meeting of the Baptist World Alliance.


11 September

King, Jr., enters the sixth grade at Howard Elementary School.


10 October

King, Sr., is reelected moderator of the Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association.


8 November

King, Sr., as head of the Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union, leads several hundred black Atlantans on a voter registration march to City Hall.


14 November

Ebenezer hosts the annual meeting of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia.


6 December

King, Sr., presides at a meeting of the Atlanta Ministers Council.


15 December

King, Jr., and members of Ebenezer's choir sing at the Junior League gala ball celebrating the premiere of Gone with the Wind at Loew's Grand Theater in Atlanta.

1940


5 April

King, Sr., delivers a sermon at the installation of his brother, Joel King, as pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Griffin, Georgia.


6 June

King, Jr., graduates from Howard Elementary School.


10 July

King, Sr., is reelected president of the Atlanta Ministers Council.


23 July

King, Sr., attends the General Missionary Baptist Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Convention of Georgia in Columbus.


1 August

Benjamin Mays is appointed president of Morehouse College.


7-8 August

The Atlanta branch of the NAACP and the Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union oppose a proposed city bond issue because it sets aside insufficient funds for black schools.


September

King, Jr., enters the seventh grade at Atlanta University Laboratory School.


2-5 September

King, Sr., attends the National Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Alabama.


15-17 October

King, Sr., is reelected moderator of the Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association, and on 17 October addresses the group on "the true mission of the Church."


1 November

Benjamin Mays speaks at a service to dedicate Ebenezer's new organ.


9 November

King, Sr., preaches at a meeting of the General Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia.


25-29 November

Morehouse and Ebenezer host the annual training school of the Atlanta District Sunday School and Baptist Training Union Convention.


At the end of 1940,

Ebenezer Baptist Church reports 2,400 members, the largest membership in its history.

1941


16 February

King, Sr., speaks on "Goals Toward Which We Should Strive Today as a Minority Group" at Atlanta's annual Lincoln-Douglas Day celebration.


16 March

Charles D. Hubert, the dean of the Morehouse School of Religion, preaches the anniversary sermon at Ebenezer.


18 May

Jennie Celeste Parks Williams, King, Jr.'s grandmother, dies of a heart attack while serving as the women's day speaker at Mount Olive Baptist Church.


Summer

The King family moves from 501 Auburn Avenue to 193 Boulevard.


17-22 June

King, Sr., is the chairman of the Georgia delegation at the National Baptist Convention in Texas.


13-15 October

King, Sr., presides at a meeting of the Atlanta Baptist Ministers Association.


Ebenezer Baptist Church reports three hundred people joined the church during 1941.

1942


At thirteen, King, Jr., becomes the youngest assistant manager of a newspaper delivery station for the Atlanta Journal.

January

After half a year in the eighth grade at Atlanta University Laboratory School, King, Jr., enrolls in the ninth grade.


9-15 March

Charles H. Haynes, a member of the faculty at Talladega College in Alabama, preaches at Ebenezer's fifty-fifth anniversary celebration.


September

King, Jr., enters the tenth grade at Booker T. Washington High School.


13-15 October

King, Sr., presides at a meeting of the Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association at the Butler Street YMCA.

1943

11 January

The Atlanta Civic and Political League holds a mass meeting at Ebenezer to discuss the condition of public schools and other issues.

8 February

The Atlanta branch of the NAACP initiates a membership drive.

2 March

King, Sr., and other officers of the Atlanta Civic and Political League are reelected during a meeting at the Prince Hall Masons Building in Atlanta.

17 March

Morehouse College president Benjamin Mays addresses the Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union.

26 May

King, Sr., speaks at the anniversary service of Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Atlanta.

14 June

King, Sr., chairs a meeting of the Atlanta Citizens' Committee on the Equalization of Teachers' Salaries.

15 August

King, Sr., conducts a revival at First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Georgia.

September

King, Jr., enters the eleventh grade at Booker T. Washington High School.

22 September

The Atlanta Baptist Ministers Union condemns the use of forced black labor in cotton fields near Athens, Georgia.

12-14 October

The Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association reelects King, Sr., as moderator.

19 December

John W. Webb, national leader of the black Masons, speaks at Ebenezer.

1944


20 February

King, Sr., addresses an NAACP membership rally.


13 April

King, Jr., wins the right to represent Booker T. Washington High School in the state competition of the Elks' oratorical contest.


17 April

King travels to Dublin, Georgia, to deliver his oration "The Negro and the Constitution." Although he does not win the contest, his speech is later printed in the Booker T. Washington High School yearbook, The Cornellian.


Summer

King, Jr., participates in a summer work program for Morehouse students, picking tobacco on a farm in Simsbury, Connecticut. At the end of the summer, King, Jr., is admitted to Morehouse College as an early admissions student.


20 September

King begins his freshman year at Morehouse, taking Freshman Mathematics, Church History, Composition and Reading, History of Civilization, and Introduction to Biology.

1945


10 January

King, Sr., is elected vice president of the Atlanta Civic and Political League.


15 February

King, Sr., leads a protest against segregated elevators at the Fulton County Courthouse.


June

King, Sr., receives an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Morris Brown College.


5-9 September

King, Jr., accompanies King, Sr., as he leads the Atlanta delegation to the National Baptist Convention in Detroit.


19 September

King, Jr., begins his sophomore year at Morehouse, taking Elementary French, Introduction to General Literature, Introduction to Sociology, Matter and Energy, General Psychology, and Educational Psychology.


16-19 October

King, Sr., is reelected moderator of the Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association.


12 November

King, Sr., is elected president of the Atlanta Morehouse Club.

16-17 November

The Georgia NAACP convention meets at Ebenezer.

1946


As a sophomore at Morehouse, King, Jr., wins second prize in the John L. Webb Oratorical Contest.

19 January

Mary McLeod Bethune speaks at Ebenezer.


Spring Walter R. Chivers, Morehouse sociology professor, inaugurates an annual institute on family living.

2 April

The U. S. Supreme Court, in the case of Primus King v. State of Georgia, declares the "white primary" to be unconstitutional, thus removing a significant legal barrier to black voting in the state.

10 May

Ella Baker speaks at a mass meeting of the All Citizens Registration Committee at Wheat Street Baptist Church in Atlanta.


Summer

King, Jr., quits his job as a laborer at the Atlanta Railway Express Company when a white foreman calls him "nigger."


6 August

The Atlanta Constitution publishes King, Jr.'s letter to the editor stating that blacks "are entitled to the basic rights and opportunities of American citizens."


4-8 September

The National Baptist Convention meets in Atlanta.


25 September

King, Jr., begins his junior year at Morehouse; his courses include Shakespeare, the Bible, American Literature, Intermediate French, Contemporary Social Trends, Social Anthropology, and a seminar in Sociology.


15-19 October

King, Sr., presides at the annual meeting of the Atlanta Missionary Baptist Association.


5 November

Eugene Talmadge is elected governor of Georgia. Black Georgia Baptists plan to protest his inauguration, on 9 January 1947, with a day of prayer.


21 December

Eugene Talmadge dies before taking office as governor.


1947


January/February

King, Jr.'s article, "The Purpose of Education" is published in the Morehouse student paper, the Maroon Tiger.


12 March

King, Jr., is elected chair of the membership committee of the Atlanta NAACP Youth Council in a meeting on the Morehouse College campus.


14 March

King, Jr., opens an Ebenezer anniversary service with a song.


24 April

King, Sr., is elected a trustee of Morehouse College.


Summer

King, Jr., works on a tobacco farm in Simsbury, Connecticut.


24 September

King, Jr., begins his senior year at Morehouse College, enrolling in Social Psychology, Classics in English, Social Institutions, Social Legislation, Urban Sociology, Intercultural Relations, Introduction to Philosophy, Principles and Methods of Statistics, and a seminar in Sociology.


Fall

King, Jr., preaches a trial sermon at Ebenezer.


27 October

1948


King, Jr., wins second prize in the John L. Webb Oratorical Contest.

20 February

King, Jr., offers the prayer at graveside memorial services for former Morehouse College presidents John Hope and Samuel H. Archer.


25 February

King, Jr., is ordained and appointed assistant pastor at Ebenezer.


22 March

King, Sr., preaches at Morehouse College Chapel.


April

King, Jr., accepts Crozer's offer of admission.


25 April

King, Jr., preaches "Life is What You Make It" in the morning and "The Meaning of Christian Living" in the evening at Liberty Baptist Church in Atlanta.


8 June

King, Jr., receives his bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Morehouse and Christine King receives her bachelor of arts degree in economics from Spelman College.


Summer

King, Jr., serves as assistant pastor of Ebenezer.


11 July

King, Jr., is guest speaker at a meeting of the Negro Cultural League at Ebenezer.


1 August

King, Jr., delivers sermon at Ebenezer's evening service on "External Versus Internal Religion."


8 August

Walter R. McCall delivers sermon on "The Destruction of Pride" at Ebenezer's morning service, and King, Jr., preaches "The Tests of Goodness" in the evening.


22 August

King, Jr., preaches at Ebenezer's morning service on "God's Kingdom First."


22 August

King, Jr., performs the wedding ceremony of Samuel P. Long and Ruth Bussey at Thankful Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia.


5 September

King, Jr., preaches at Ebenezer.


11-12 September

King, Jr., spends the weekend in New York City with his sister, Christine, a first-year graduate student at Columbia University.


14 September-24 November

During the first term of his first year at Crozer Theological Seminary, King takes Public Speaking, Preaching Ministry of the Church, Introduction to the Old Testament, Orientation for Juniors, Choir, and Church Music.


30 November-16 February 1949

King, Jr., takes Great Theologians, the History and Literature of the New Testament, Preparation of the Sermon, and Public Speaking.

 

1949


20 February

King, Jr., delivers the annual youth day sermon at Ebenezer.


22 February-6 May

King, Jr., is enrolled in Christian Mysticism, Practice Preaching, and Public Speaking.

Summer

King, Jr., serves as assistant pastor of Ebenezer.


12 June

King, Jr., preaches in the morning at Atlanta's Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church and in the evening at Ebenezer.


3 July

King, Jr., delivers a sermon on "The Voice of Hope" at Ebenezer.


5-8 July

King, Sr., lectures on "The Pastor as Administrator and Organizer" at the annual ministers' conference held at Morehouse.


31 July

King, Jr., preaches "The Two Challenging Questions" at Ebenezer.


14 August

King, Jr., is the youth day speaker at Zion Hill Baptist Church in Atlanta.


4 September

King, Jr., preaches "The Great Paradox" in the morning and "The Significance of the Cross" in the evening at Ebenezer.


7 September

William B. Hartsfield is elected mayor of Atlanta by a coalition of black and affluent white voters that will dominate the city's politics for the next four decades.


13 September-23 November

During the first term of his second year at Crozer, King, Jr., enrolls in Public Worship, Greek Religion, and Christian Theology for Today. Later that year he is named chairman of the student body's devotional committee.


26 September-10 June 1950

King, Jr., audits a course on the Philosophy of History at the University of Pennsylvania.

November

King, Jr., hears A. J. Muste defend pacifism in a lecture at Crozer.


29 November-15 February 1950

King, Jr., is enrolled in Preaching Problems, Pastoral Counseling, Conduct of Church Services, the Development of Christian Ideas I, and Christian Theology for Today.


11 December

The Reverend William H. Gray, Jr., of Philadelphia preaches for men's day at Ebenezer.


23 December-2 January 1950

According to his later published account, King, Jr., spends Christmas vacation reading Karl Marx, and he "carefully scrutinizes" Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto.

 

1950


19 February

King, Jr., preaches "Walking with the Lord" at Ebenezer's morning service.


21 February-5 May

King, Jr., takes courses on the History of Living Religions and the History of Christianity.

23 February

The Atlanta branch of the NAACP votes to support a lawsuit filed by King, Sr., as head of a citizens' committee seeking to win equal pay for black teachers.

Spring

King, Jr., hears Mordecai Johnson, president of Howard University, preach at Philadelphia's Fellowship House on Mohandas K. Gandhi's satyagraha as a method of social change.

May

King, Jr., is elected president of the student body at Crozer.


12 June

King, Jr., Walter R. McCall, Pearl E. Smith, and Doris Wilson are refused service by Ernest Nichols at Mary's Cafe in Maple Shade, New Jersey. Nichols fires a gun into the air when they persist in their request for service. He is arrested and charged, but later, when witnesses fail to testify, the case is dropped.


16 June

King, Jr., is arrested for speeding in Claymont, Delaware, on his way to Atlanta.


17 June

A. D. King and Naomi Barber are married at Ebenezer.


18 June

King, Jr., preaches "The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth" at Ebenezer.


Summer

King, Jr., serves as assistant pastor of Ebenezer.


30 July

King, Jr., is youth day speaker at Liberty Baptist Church.


12 September-22 November

King, Jr., enters his senior year at Crozer, taking courses on American Christianity--Colonial Period, Minister's Use of the Radio, and Religious Development of Personality. He serves as student pastor at the First Baptist Church in Queens, New York.


20 September-3 February 1951

King, Jr., audits courses on the Problems of Esthetics and Kant at the University of Pennsylvania.


28 November-15 February 1951

King, Jr., enrolls in Philosophy of Religion and Theological Integration at Crozer.


10 December

The Reverend J. H. Jackson of Chicago is men's day speaker at Ebenezer.


15 December

King, Jr., is accepted as a student in the Post-Graduate School of the Faculty of Divinity at Edinburgh University, Scotland.

1951


11 January

King, Jr., is admitted to Boston University's School of Theology.


3 February

King, Jr., takes the Graduate Record Examination.


18 February

King, Jr., preaches "Nothing in Particular" at Ebenezer.


20 February-4 May

King, Jr., is enrolled in Advanced Philosophy of Religion, Christian Social Philosophy, and Christianity and Society.


6-8 May

King, Jr., graduates from Crozer with a bachelor of divinity degree, delivering the valedictory address at commencement. He receives both the Pearl Plafker Memorial Award as the graduating student who, "in the judgment of the faculty, has been the outstanding member of his class during his course in the seminary," and the J. Lewis Crozer Fellowship, which provides $1,200 toward graduate school.


12 May

King, Jr., preaches "The World Crisis & A Mother's Responsibility" at Ebenezer.


Summer

King, Jr., serves as pastor in charge at Ebenezer.


29 June

King, Sr., offers the benediction at the evening session of the NAACP's annual conference in Atlanta.

 © The Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr.