January 15, 1929: Martin Luther King, Jr. is born to Reverend and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Sr. in Atlanta, Georgia.
September 1948: King enters Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania; after hearing a message on the life and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, he begins to study Gandhi seriously.
May 17, 1954: The Supreme Court of the United States rules unanimously in Brown vs. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools in unconstitutional.
June 5, 1955: Martin Luther King, Jr. receives a Ph.D. in Systmatic Theology from Boston University.
December 1, 1955: Mrs. Rosa Parks, 42, refuses to relinquish her seat to a white man and is arrested.
December 5, 1955: Day 1 of the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.
January 30, 1956: A bomb is thrown onto the porch of Dr. King’s Montgomery home. Mrs. King and friend, Mrs. Roscoe Williams, are in the house with Yolanda Denise, Dr. and Mrs. King’s 2 month old daughter, are not injured.
February 21, 1956: 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, 1956: A United States district court rules that racial segregation on city bus lines is unconstitutional.
December 20, 1956: Federal injunctions prohibiting segregation on buses are served on city and bus company officials in Montgomery. Injunctions are also served on state officials, all following a November 13, 1956 United States Supreme Court affirmation of the decision of the three-judge district court declaration that Alabama’s state and local laws requiring segregation on buses is unconstitutional.
December 21, 1956: Montgomery buses are integrated.
January 27, 1957: An unexploded bomb is discovered on the front porch of the Kings’ house.
February 1957: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is founded; Dr. King is elected its president.
February 18, 1957: Dr. King appears on the cover of Time magazine.
June 13, 1957: Dr. King has a conference with Richard Nixon, Vice President of the United States.
September, 1957: President Dwight D. Eisenhower federalizes the Arkansas National Guard to escort nine Black students to an all white high school in Little Rock, Arkansas.
September 9, 1957: 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.
September 4, 1958: Dr. King is convicted of a charge of “failure to obey an officer” (which was originally an arrest for loitering) after pleading “not guilty”. The fine is paid almost immediately, over his objection, by Montgomery Police Commissioner Clyde Sellers.
September 20, 1958: Dr. King is stabbed in the chest by a 42 year old mentally deranged woman, Mrs. Izola Curry, in Harlem while he is autographing his recently published book, Strive Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, leaving him in serious, but not critical, condition.
February 2-March 10, 1959: Dr. and Mrs. King study Gandhi’s techniques of nonviolence in India as guests of Prime Minister Nehru.
January 24, 1960: The King family moves to Atlanta where Dr. King becomes copastor, with his father, of the Ebenezer Baptist Church.
February 1, 1960: The first lunch-counter sit-in to desegregate eating facilities is held by students in Greensboro, North Carolina.
February 17, 1960: A warrant is issued for Dr. King’s arrest on charges that he had falsified his 1956 and 1958 Alabama state income tax returns. He is acquitted of the tax evasion charge by and all-white jury in Montgomery on May 28, 2960.
June 10, 1960: Dr. King and A. Philip Randolph announce plans for picketing both the Republican and Democratic national conventions.
June 24, 1960: Dr. King has a conference with John F. Kennedy, candidate for United States President, about racial matters.
October 19, 1960: Dr. King is arrested at an Atlanta sit-in as is jailed on a charge of violating the state’s trespass law, which was dropped later that same month. All jailed demonstrators are released (Oct. 22-27) except Dr. King who is ordered to be held on a charge of violating a probated sentence in a traffic arrest case. He is transferred to the DeKalb County Jain in Decatur, Georgia, and then is trasferred to the Reidsville State Prison. He’s released on a $2,000 bond.
May 4, 1961: The first group of Freedom Riders leaves Washington, DC by Greyhound bus intent on integrating interstate buses. The group departs shortly after the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in interstate transportation terminals. The bus is burned in Alabama on May 14; a mob beats the Riders upon their arrival in Birmingham. The Riders are arrested in Jackson, Mississippi and spent 40-60 days in Parchman Penitentiary.
December 16, 1961: Dr. King is arrested at an Albany demonstration and is charged with obstructing the sidewalk and parading without a permit. He was tried and convicted for leading the march on February 27, 1962.
May 2, 1962: Dr. King is invited to join the Birmingham protests.
July 27, 1962: Dr. King is arrested at an Albany city hall prayer vigil and jailed on charges of failure to obey a police officer, obstructing the sidewalk, and disorderly conduct.
September 20, 1962: 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 US marshals on October 1, 1962.
April 16, 1963: Dr. King writes the “Letter from Birmingham Jail” while imprisoned for demonstrating.
May 3-5, 1963: Eugene “Bull” Connor, Director of Public Safety of Birmingham, orders the use of police dogs and fire hoses on young adults and children who were marching in protest of racial discrimination.
May 20, 1963: The Supreme Court of the United States rules Birmingham’s segregation ordinances unconstitutional.
June 1963: Harper & Row publishes Dr. King’s book, Strength to Love.
June 11, 1963: 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 students from entering.
June 12, 1963: Medgar Evers, NAACP leader in Jackson, Mississippi, is assassinated at his home in the early morning darkness by a rifle bullet. His memorial service is held on June 15 and he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC on June 19.
August 28, 1963: The March on Washington, the first large integrated protest march, is held in Washington, DC. Dr. King delivers his now-famous I Have a Dream speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Afterward, he and other civil rights leaders meet with President John F. Kennedy at the White House.
November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
February 21, 1965: Malcolm X is murdered by Blacks in New York.
August 6, 1965: The 1965 Voting Rights Act is signed by President Johnson.
February 1966: Dr. King rents an apartment in the Black ghetto of Chicago.
June 6, 1966: James Meredith is shot during his 220 mile “March Against Fear” from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi.
August 5, 1966: Dr. King is stoned in Chicago as he leads a march through Gage Park as art of his drive to make the city an “open city” regarding housing.
March 12, 1967: Alabama is ordered to desegregate all public schools.
July 6, 1967: The Justice Department reports that more than half of all eligible Black voters are registered in Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
July 1967: Severe, tragic riots ensue throughout New Jersey and Detroit followed by call to end the violent riots by Dr. King and other Black leaders.
November 27, 1967: Dr. King announces the formation of a Poor People’s Campaign with the goal of representing the problems of poor people.
April 3, 1968: Dr. King delivers his last speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top,” in Memphis.
April 4, 1968: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated by a sniper, shot in the neck as he stood outside his second floor room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
January 18, 1986: President Reagan signs proclamation declaring the third Monday of January each year a public holiday in honor of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 16, 2012: Brigette Bustos writes about one of her beloved heroes, an educated, courageous, handsome, Black preacher who was born, lived, and died hundreds of miles away in the South before her existence was ever imagined. She prays that safety and strength protect and provide for President Barack Obama and his family who reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, DC where the First Family serves its community, supporting education through others-oriented volunteerism. Tomorrow, the president will return to work and face questions posed by the world including, “What is the United States going to do about the Middle East?”
Sometimes, history teaches us more than what was, but hints at what can become.
During a 2008 trip to Atlanta, I visited Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King and his father pastored a thriving congregation. Nearby, one can learn about his life at a Memorial Center.
Selection of public facts about the chronology of Dr. King’s life and events therein cited in The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr., selected by Coretta Scott King, published by Newmarket Press.
Photos taken by Brigette Bustos, June 2008.