A Man Named King
Martin Luther King, Jr. grew up in Atlanta, Georgia , the son of an adoring mother and a Baptist minister, Mike King, who had a strong interest in civil rights. Both father and son were named after the German priest Martin Luther, who had spearheaded the Protestant Reformation in Europe. "It was relatively strict [growing] up in a minister's home," King once said. "I faced the discipline that you would face in a very fervent religious background.... I didn't start out with an interest to enter the ministry. At first, after finishing high school, I was interested in going into law, and also medicine at one point.... But I finally decided to enter the ministry."
By 1954, Martin Luther King had finished college and seminary, and had earned a Ph.D. from Boston University's School of Theology. When he graduated he was ready to put his faith and principles into action. In 1954 he headed back South, where segregation ruled and blacks were intimidated as part of daily life. He took a job at a small church in Montgomery, Alabama.
"Well, I started out as a pastor in Montgomery, Alabama," he said. "I had no idea that I would be catapulted into a position of leadership in the civil rights struggle in the United States."
In 1955, buses in all the southern states were segregated . Laws said that the seats in front were for whites, those in the back for blacks . Suddenly this issue flared up into prominence. Martin Luther King later narrated the key incident of a new movement: "On the 1st of December, 1955 a Negro woman was arrested, Mrs. Rosa Parks, for refusing to give up her seat to a boarding white passenger ."