History

Martin Luther King Jr.’s College Experience

The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Day of Service is a day that highlights the importance of seeing black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC) – seeing their hardships in comparison to white people and other races, seeing their successes and the extra hard work they needed to get there, and seeing them for who they are beyond stereotypes and prejudice.

We know the history that has been made by King’s powerful “I Have a Dream” speech. It has contributed to shaping the world view of everyone in America that has heard it, but what were the events that shaped Martin Luther King, Jr. himself? Sure enough, his history making began in college.

King’s education carried him to Morehouse College, where he received a degree in sociology. He was considered an early admissions student because he began taking classes during his junior year of high school, where his grades excelled. During his time there, King had a letter published by the Atlantic Constitution. In this letter, King urged that blacks “are entitled to the basic rights and opportunities of American citizens.” He also was ordained during his stay at Morehouse, and he became the associate pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Martin Luther King Jr. at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

After completing his time at Morehouse, King attended the Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, PA. This is where he obtained a bachelor of divinity degree. He was elected student body president of the seminary, and he was also admitted to Boston University’s School of Theology while studying here.

King’s time at Boston University held many personal wins for him. Firstly, he joined Boston’s Sigma chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, a fraternity on campus. The following year, he was married to his wife, Coretta Scott King. Later that year, King succeeded in installing the Dexter Avenue Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama, where he served as the pastor. King finished his time at Boston University by being awarded his doctorate degree.

College was an important and rewarding time for Martin Luther King, Jr., as it is for many other successful people. While college may feel like just a stepping stone for some, remember to use the tools that you have been given every day and make the most of your education.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Learn more about Martin Luther King Jr.’s life from this book and many others in our social justice collection.

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