Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. rose to prominence as the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference that advocated nonviolence as a way to bring about social change.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 after he played an instrumental role in attracting 250,000 to participate in the March on Washington D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963. The march was organized to demonstrate against racism and segregation in America.
Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” continues to inspire school children across the nation, and the Nobel Peace Prize that King received the year following the speech he gave at the Lincoln Memorial, solidified his reputation as the leader of the civil rights movement.
Born in Atlanta, Ga. on Jan. 15, 1929, as Michael King, Jr., he became Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was instrumental in ending the segregation of black people in the South.
Schools in Clifton Forge had been segregated by 1967, and integration had taken place peacefully.
Students from Jefferson High School in Clifton Forge began attending Clifton Forge High School, and during the 1967 and 1968 seasons in football, the Clifton Forge High School Mountaineers went undefeated by posting a 23-0 record with the help of star running back, the late B.C. Williams.
Also, in 1968, CFHS won the Virginia State Tournament in men’s basketball.
As a Baptist minister and social activist, Dr. King traveled to Memphis in April of 1968.
He went there to support striking sanitation workers, but shortly after delivering his powerful “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop Speech” in the Mason Temple, he was assassinated on April 3, 1968.
Nominated for three Grammys for the Best Spoken Word Album, Dr. King was awarded his Grammy posthumously in 1971 for Best Spoken Word Album for his speech titled “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam.”
Like Frederick Douglass who had fought to abolish slavery in the 19th century, Dr. King fought to abolish racism and segregation in the 20th century. Douglass teamed with President Abraham Lincoln to fight for the end of slavery in America, and his anti-slavery newspaper, “The North Star” that he founded on Dec. 3, 1847, became an instrumental tool in the fight.
In 1944, Dr. King enrolled in Morehouse College in Atlanta at the age of 15. World War II was raging, and Dr. King entered the ministry before graduating but returned to graduate from Morehouse in 1948.
He received his doctorate from Boston University in 1955 and quickly followed his own North Star to become the leader of the civil rights movement in America.
Appalfolks of America Association has organized and held several musical tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in The Historic Masonic Theatre, and many people in the Alleghany Highlands have organized and participated in marches to honor Dr. King on the day of his birth, Jan. 15.