Thanks to expert colorizers, we have the fantastic opportunity to view Black and White photographs of the leading Civil Rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in color. You can also watch a timelapse showing the colorization of a photograph MLK below.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born Michael King on the 15th January 1929, to the Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta King. His father eventually changed he and his son’s names to “Martin Luther” from “Michael” in 1934, after being inspired by the teachings and writings of the famed theologian Martin Luther. Growing up, Dr. King was hurt many times due to the intense rulings of segregation, not just in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, but across the Southern United States, and some other parts of the country. For example, at one point in his childhood, he befriended a white boy whose father held a business near where Dr. King and his family lived. Even though they went to segregated schools, when they saw each other it would be cordial and joyful. The white boy’s father eventually became weary of the friendship and ended it. Another incident, while riding the bus, where he and his teacher, who was Black, were made to stand so that others could sit. The hurt from this, inspired Martin Luther King, to want help change racist attitudes.
He excelled academically and was allowed to skip a few grade levels and enter university at Morehouse College at age 14, instead of the usual age of 17 or 18. While studying there, he chose to enter the ministry and become a preacher like his father, realizing that the church offered the best example of humanitarian efforts. He graduated from Morehouse in 1948 and continued his studies at Crozer Theological Seminary, graduating with a Bachelor of Divinity in 1951. In 1954, he was finally called to be a pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama; here in Montgomery, was where his equality efforts strongly began to take place. The next year, he earned his Doctorate degree on 5th June 1955. On the 1st December 1955, bus rider Rosa Parks, a Black lady, refused to give her seat up to a white man and was promptly arrested for her decision, Dr. King foresaw this incident as a kickstart to his public activism. Parks’ arrest gave Dr. King the idea to boycott buses in Montgomery (Montgomery Bus Boycott) to grab the attention of prejudice business owners and lawmakers. This initiative was aimed to have people in Montgomery not ride any buses in the city, thus dropping profits and losing money for the bus companies, until everyone was fairly treated regardless of race.
Even while silently protesting for fair treatment, the boycott was not smooth. Many of the boycotter’s homes were bombed, including Dr. King’s, as well as the churches they attended. Due to the violence, many went back to riding the bus, no matter how they were treated. Despite this, Dr. King became a household name not only in Montgomery but around the nation.
In 1957, Dr. King along with other activists and ministers formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). The group’s mission was to protest the inequalities and discrimination non-Whites faced in the American South with intense segregation laws. They led marches and demonstrations for the right for African-Americans and other minorities to vote, attend integrated schools, and be able to go to other places white Americans were allowed, without being denied due to their race.
Over the next decade, Dr. King and the SCLC participated in many demonstrations, not just locally but nationally in the fight to end segregation and to have equal rights for all races. One of Dr. King’s profound speeches was his “I Have a Dream” speech held at The March on Washington event on the 28th August 1963. One quote from his speech, summed up what he was hoping for in the future, he said “I have a dream one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” At the end of his famous speech, the crowd was filled with hope and excitement. With Dr. King’s dream, they believed that it was possible that all races could come together as one and live amongst one another.
On the 4th April 1968, after he spent a great effort to bring equality and peace to the nation and the world, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, bringing his exceptional life to a tragic end. However, his death was not in vain; during and after his decades’ long crusade for equal rights, Dr. King has influenced millions of people from around the globe to fight for what is right, but to do so non-violently.