Most people know the basic life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life but there some are hidden gems. His parents had always told him that he was equal to everyone, teaching him to become an activist. His time in Simsbury, CT working at the Cullman Brothers’ tobacco farm in the summers of 1944 and 1947 developed his interest in his calling to minister and his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. During the summers at 8 a.m., the Morehouse students would attend church services and Dr. King viewed himself as a religious leader. These visits opened his eyes to the world of no segregation. In a note to his father, he wrote, “The white people here are very nice. We go to any place we want and sit any where we want.” Going back to Atlanta, GA affected Dr. King mentally. “[The] separation did something to my sense of dignity and self-respect.”
Dr. King became involved in the Civil Rights Movement when he was chosen to be the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). The MIA was where Dr. King began his work with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He was chosen because he was new to the world of the Civil Rights Movement and according to Rosa Parks, “...he hadn’t been there long enough to make any strong friends or enemies.” Once Dr. King reached new heights in the leadership of the Civil Rights Movement, he played pool to reach out to the members of the Black community who did not come to church to hear his messages.
During his lifetime, Dr. King was arrested 29 times for his Civil Rights activities, gave 2,500 speeches, wrote five books and published numerous articles, and traveled more than six million miles. He won a Congressional Gold Medal, a Medal of Freedom, and a Grammy in 1971 for Best Spoken Word Album for “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam”.
The unknown hidden gems of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life show that even though it takes one some time to find their purpose in life, once you find it you will shine. The legacy of this great orator, activist, and leader lives in the hearts and minds of all activists and visionaries who want this country to be a better place for Black lives.
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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 West Virginia Black Heritage Festival has been canceled but that doesn't mean we're taking a break!