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King, Martin Luther (1929–1968)

John H. Stanfield


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not only an internationally renowned civil rights leader, but was also a public sociologist par excellence. King was born into a family and local community of socially involved ministers, deeply dedicated to issues of racial justice, in Atlanta, Georgia. His father was the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, located in the now famous Auburn Avenue black community in Atlanta, who along with peers such as the Rev. William Borders, pastor of the Wheat Street Baptist Church, and John Dobbs, informally called the Mayor of Sweet Auburn, created a community culture that was highly critical of the racial status quo. It was in the Auburn Avenue community that King developed his lifelong commitment to social justice that would become refined as he was educated and went through the experiences of being a leader of a powerful social movement. This is important to keep in mind since often, while analyzing the contributions of King, it has been common to forget, or to undervalue, the influences of his community of origin. It was here that he was exposed, at an early age, to highly educated black men who took bold public stances against the racial oppression of their day. His time at Morehouse College as an undergraduate (1944–8) coincided with the most influential years of Benjamin E. Mays, the institution's president, who was a practical theologian and public sociologist ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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