In 1983, Republican President Ronald Reagan signed the bill to make the 3rd Monday in January a holiday in honor of Baptist Pastor, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born JANUARY 15, 1929.
Martin was a Baptist preacher like his brother, Rev. A.D. King, pastor of Mount Vernon First Baptist Church in Newnan, Georgia, and like his father, Rev. "Daddy" King - Martin Luther King, Sr., who was pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Rev. King attended Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, 1942-44.
In 1944, Martin Luther King, Jr., attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, a college founded after the Civil War by Baptist minister Rev. William Jefferson White.
Originally named Atlanta Baptist College, it was renamed after Henry Lyman Morehouse, secretary of the American Baptist Home Mission Society.
At Morehouse, King was a member of the debate team, student council, glee club, sociology club, and minister’s union.
In 1948, King, Jr., became a student at Crozer Theological Seminary in Upland, Pennsylvania, graduating with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951.
While a theological student, King attended Calvary Baptist Church in Chester, Pennsylvania.
In 1954, King became pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
In 1960, he became co-pastor with his father of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
King formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Rev. King, Jr., stated:
"I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world ... as a marvelous example of what can be done ... how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy."
"Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality."
"I solemnly pledge to do my utmost to uphold the fair name of the Jews."
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1964. In his acceptance speech in Oslo, Norway, King acknowledged:
"... profound recognition that nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral question of our time -- the need for man to overcome oppression and violence WITHOUT resorting to violence and oppression."
On April 16, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote:
"As the Apostle Paul carried the gospel of Jesus Christ ... so am I compelled to carry the gospel ...
One day the South will know that when these disinherited children of God sat down at lunch counters they were standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage."
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, were influenced by the German church leader Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who resisted Hitler's National Socialist Workers' Party.
Bonhoeffer was himself influenced by the Black preacher, Adam Clayton Powell Sr., pastor of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church, once the largest Protestant church in America.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was also influenced by Henry David Thoreau, who wrote in his book, In Civil Disobedience (1849):
"That government is best which governs least"
Rev. King was influenced by Booker T. Washington, having attended the high school named for him.
Booker T. Washington founded Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, and wrote Up From Slavery (1901), in which he stated:
"I resolved that I would permit no man, no matter what his color might be, to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.
With God's help, I believe that I have completely rid myself of any ill feeling toward the Southern white man for any wrong that he may have inflicted upon my race ...
I pity from the bottom of my heart any individual who is so unfortunate as to get into the habit of holding race prejudice."
Booker T. Washington stated:
"In the sight of God there is no color line, and we want to cultivate a spirit that will make us forget that there is such a line anyway."
"I have always had the greatest respect for the work of the Salvation Army especially because I have noted that it draws no color line in religion."
Booker T. Washington wrote in Up From Slavery (1901):
"There is a class of race problem solvers who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public ...
Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances because they do not want to lose their jobs ...
They don't want the patient to get well ...
Great men cultivate love ... only little men cherish a spirit of hatred."
Booker T. Washington recruited George Washington Carver to be a professor at Tuskegee.
Carver wrote to Robert Johnson, March 24, 1925:
"Thank God I love humanity; complexion doesn't interest me one single bit."
George W. Carver wrote to YMCA official Jack Boyd in Denver, March 1, 1927:
"Keep your hand in that of the Master, walk daily by His side,
so that you may lead others into the realms of true happiness, where a religion of hate, (which poisons both body and soul) will be unknown,
having in its place the 'Golden Rule' way, which is the 'Jesus Way' of life, will reign supreme."
Becoming internationally renown, George Washington Carver received letters from leaders around the world, including Mahatma Gandhi, with whom he corresponded from 1929 to 1935, addressing him "My beloved friend, Mr. Gandhi."
Gandhi's insistence on non-violent protests helped India gain its independence from Great Britain, August 15, 1947.
The United Nations designated Gandhi's birthday, October 2, as the International Day of Non-Violence.
Gandhi wrote in his autobiography of an incident on a ship with 800 passengers traveling from India to the Natal Province of South Africa.
When some passengers learned that Gandhi was aboard, they grew furious.
As Gandhi was disembarking, they punched him, kicked him, and threw stones at him, but he refused to retaliate and kept walking.
He was finally rescued when the wife of the town's police superintendent opened her parasol and stood between Gandhi and the mob.
"I hope God will give me the courage and the sense to forgive them and to refrain from bringing them to law.
I have no anger against them. I am only sorry for their ignorance and their narrowness.
I know that they sincerely believe that what they are doing today is right and proper. I have no reason therefore to be angry with them."
Gandhi read the Gospels, stating that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount "went straight to my heart."
While practicing law in South Africa from 1893 to 1914, he went to visit a church, but the usher refused to let him in because of his race.
Later, missionary E. Stanley Jones asked him:
"Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?"
"Oh, I don't reject Christ. I love Christ. It's just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ ...
If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today."
Historian Will Durant wrote of Gandhi in The Story of Civilization, Volume I:
"He did not mouth the name of Christ, but acted as if he accepted every word on the Sermon on the Mount.
Not since St. Francis of Assisi has any life known to history been so marked by gentleness, disinterestedness, simplicity and forgiveness of enemies."
Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948.
His non-violent methods influenced Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who referred to Gandhi as "the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change."
Rev. King left on a five week tour of India, February 3, 1959. He met Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and toured the country.
Afterwards, King reflected:
"Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity.
In a real sense, Mahatma Gandhi embodied in his life certain universal principles that are inherent in the moral structure of the universe, and these principles are as inescapable as the law of gravitation'' (Papers 5:136).
"Mahatma Gandhi was the first person in human history to lift the ethic of love of Jesus Christ, above mere interaction between individuals and make it into a powerful and effective social force on a large scale."
On March 6, 1984, President Ronald Reagan mentioned Rev. King in his remarks at the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals, meeting at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Columbus, Ohio:
"During the civil rights struggles of the fifties and early sixties, millions worked for equality in the name of their Creator.
Civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King based all their efforts on the claim that black or white, each of us is a child of God. And they stirred our nation to the very depths of its soul."
In 1957, Rev. Martin Luther King attended the Billy Graham Crusade in New York City.
Graham wrote in his autobiography:
"One night civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom I was pleased to count a friend, gave an eloquent opening prayer at the service; he also came at my invitation to one of our Team retreats during the Crusade to help us understand the racial situation in America more fully."
Becoming friends, Billy Graham shared a conversation with Rev. King:
"His father, who was called Big Mike, called him Little Mike. He asked me to call him just plain Mike."
Rev. King credited Billy Graham with reducing racial tension, as Graham even canceled a 1965 tour of Europe to preach crusades in Alabama, allowing the Gospel to bring healing between the races.
Billy Graham stated:
"Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe.
Christianity is not a white man's religion, and don't let anybody ever tell you that it's white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world."
Billy Graham wrote:
"My study of the Bible, leading me eventually to the conclusion that not only was racial inequality wrong but Christians especially should demonstrate love toward all peoples."
Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote:
"Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the Civil Rights Movement would not have been as successful as it has been."
On January 20, 1997, Rev. Billy Graham delivered the invocation just prior to the Second Inauguration of President Bill Clinton, stating:
"Oh, Lord, help us to be reconciled first to you and secondly to each other. May Dr. Martin Luther King's dream finally come true for all of us.
Help us to learn our courtesy to our fellow countrymen, that comes from the one who taught us that 'whatever you want me to do to you, do also to them."
In proclaiming 1990 the International Year of Bible Reading, President George H.W. Bush stated:
"The historic speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., provide compelling evidence of the role Scripture played in shaping the struggle against slavery and discrimination."
On February 16, 2002, Dr. James Dobson addressed 3,500 attendees at the National Religious Broadcaster's convention:
"Those of you who do feel that the church has no responsibility in the cultural area ... Suppose it were ... 1963, and Martin Luther King is sitting in a Birmingham jail and he is released.
And he goes to a church, yes, a church. And from that church, he comes out into the streets of Birmingham and marches for civil rights.
Do you oppose that? Is that a violation of the separation of church and state?"
In his address at Montgomery, Alabama, December 31, 1955, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., declared:
"If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say,
'There lived a great people-a black people-who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.'"
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said August 28, 1963:
"Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children ...
In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.
Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence."
On April 16, 1963, Rev. King wrote:
"I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers ... I stand in the middle of two opposing forces in the Negro community.
One is a force of complacency ... The other force is one of bitterness and hatred, and it comes perilously close to advocating violence.
It is expressed in the various black nationalist groups that are springing up across the nation, the largest and best-known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement ...
This movement is made up of people who have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and who have concluded that the white man is an incorrigible 'devil.'
I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the 'do-nothingism' of the complacent nor the hatred of the black nationalist.
For there is the more excellent way of love and non-violent protest.
I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of non-violence became an integral part of our struggle."
Rev. King proclaimed August 28, 1963:
"I have a dream that 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.'
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood ...
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character ...
I have a dream ... where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers."