Martin Luther King Jr. - Biography
Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. His grandfather began the family's long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor. Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951. With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955. In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments. Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.
In 1954, Martin Luther King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Always a strong worker for civil rights for members of his race, King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation. He was ready, then, early in December, 1955, to accept the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation speech in honor of the laureate. The boycott lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as equals. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.
In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi. In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles. In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience. and inspiring his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, "l Have a Dream", he conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson; he was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.
At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.
On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.
Adams, Russell, Great Negroes Past and Present, pp. 106-107. Chicago, Afro-Am Publishing Co., 1963.
Bennett, Lerone, Jr., What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Chicago, Johnson, 1964.
I Have a Dream: The Story of Martin Luther King in Text and Pictures. New York, Time Life Books, 1968.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., The Measure of a Man. Philadelphia. The Christian Education Press, 1959. Two devotional addresses.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., Strength to Love. New York, Harper & Row, 1963. Sixteen sermons and one essay entitled "Pilgrimage to Nonviolence."
King, Martin Luther, Jr., Stride toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. New York, Harper, 1958.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., The Trumpet of Conscience. New York, Harper & Row, 1968.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? New York, Harper & Row, 1967.
King, Martin Luther, Jr., Why We Can't Wait. New York, Harper & Row, 1963.
"Man of the Year", Time, 83 (January 3, 1964) 13-16; 25-27.
"Martin Luther King, Jr.", in Current Biography Yearbook 1965, ed. by Charles Moritz, pp. 220-223. New York, H.W. Wilson.
Reddick, Lawrence D., Crusader without Violence: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York, Harper, 1959.
From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1951-1970, Editor Frederick W. Haberman, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1972
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.
* Note from Nobelprize.org: This biography uses the word "Negro". Even though this word today is considered inappropriate, the biography is published in its original version in view of keeping it as a historical document.
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1964
To cite this page
MLA style: "Martin Luther King Jr. - Biography". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 10 Mar 2018. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-bio.html>
Britain's Prince Albert must ascend the throne as King George VI, but he has a speech impediment. Knowing that the country needs her husband to be able to communicate effectively, Elizabeth hires Lionel Logue, an Australian actor and speech therapist, to help him overcome his stammer. An extraordinary friendship develops between the two men, as Logue uses unconventional means to teach the monarch how to speak with confidence.
Tells the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George ('Bertie') reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stammer and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country through war.
Biopic about Britain's King George VI (father of present day Queen Elizabeth II) and his lifelong struggle to overcome his speech impediment. Suffering from a stammer from the age of 4 or 5, the young Prince Albert dreaded any public speaking engagement. History records that his speech at the closing of the 1925 Commonwealth exhibition in London was difficult for both him and everyone listening that day. He tried many different therapies over many years but it was only when he met Lionel Logue, a speech therapist, that he truly began to make progress. Logue did not have a medical degree but had worked as an elocution coach in the theater and had worked with shell-shocked soldiers after World War I. Through a variety of techniques and much hard work, Albert learns to speak in such a way so as to make his impediment a minor problem and deliver a faultless speech heard around the world by radio when the UK declared war on Nazi Germany in 1939. The King and Logue remained lifelong friends.
In the mid 1930s, King George VI is concerned about the immediate future of the British monarchy. His eldest son David, first in line for the throne, is in a relationship with American divorcée Wallis Simpson. Marriage to a divorcée and being King of The United Kingdom (and thus head of the Established Church) are incompatible. King George V's second son, Albert (or Bertie as he is called by family), second in line for the throne, speaks with a stammer, something he's had since he was a child. Although a bright and temperamental man, Bertie, because of his stammer, does not capture the confidence of the public, which is paramount if Britain does enter into war against Hitler's regime. As King George V observes about living in a communications age, a king can no longer get by in life solely by looking good in a regal uniform and knowing how to battle riding a horse. Elizabeth, Bertie's loving wife, wants to help her husband gain confidence solely in his increasing need to speak at public functions, regardless if he becomes king or not. She finds an unconventional Australian-raised speech therapist named Lionel Logue to help assist in curing Bertie's stammer, with no one, even Lionel's family, knowing he has this job with the royal highness. Lionel and Bertie's relationship is often an antagonistic one as Lionel feels the need for the two to be equals during their sessions - with Lionel even calling him "Bertie" instead of "Your Royal Highness" in their sessions, which doesn't sit well with Albert, not used to such familiarity with a commoner. Lionel does in time become Bertie's confidante and friend, especially from Lionel's side as he tries to determine the psychological issues behind the speech impediment. An issue with Lionel (which he does not hide but also does not fully disclose) may threaten their relationship altogether, which may be especially problematic as a still stammering Bertie ultimately becomes King George VI and Britain enters into war with Germany.
—Huggo / edited by statmanjeff
In 1925, the Duke of York is stammerer and has troubles to speak to the public. His wife Elizabeth seeks the treatment of the speech therapist Lionel Logue that follows unconventional methods and relationship, and Bertie gives up the treatment on the first day. However, after listening to the session that was recorded by Lionel, the Bertie returns to the treatment. In the mid 30's, the Duke of York is forced to assume the throne of The United Kingdom as King George VI due to the abdication of his older brother King Edward VIII. Immediately after, there is a crisis in the government and Britain declares war with Germany. King George VI needs to make a speech to his compatriots, and his friend Lionel helps him using an unorthodox technique.
—Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The story of King George VI of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, his impromptu ascension to the throne and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.
The synopsis below may give away important plot points.
- The film opens with Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), known to his wife and family as "Bertie" (Colin Firth), the second son of King George V, speaking at the close of the 1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium, with his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) by his side. His stammering speech visibly unsettles the thousands of listeners in the audience. The prince tries several unsuccessful treatments and gives up, until the Duchess persuades him to see Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist.
In their first session, Logue requests that they address each other by their Christian names, a breach of royal etiquette: Logue tells the prince that he will be calling him Bertie from now on. At first, Bertie is reluctant to receive treatment, but Logue bets Bertie a shilling that he can read perfectly at that very moment, and gives him Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy to read aloud, with music blaring so that he can't hear himself. Logue records Bertie's reading on a gramophone record, but convinced that he has stammered throughout, Bertie leaves in a huff, declaring his condition "hopeless." Logue gives him the recording as a keepsake.
Later that year, after Bertie's father, King George V (Michael Gambon), makes his 1934 Christmas address, he explains to his son the importance of broadcasting for the modern monarchy in a perilous international situation. He declares that Bertie's older brother, David, Prince of Wales, will bring ruin to the family and the country when he ascends the throne, and demands that Bertie train himself to fill in, beginning by reading his father's speech into a microphone for practice. After an agonizing attempt to do so made worse by his father's coaching, Bertie plays Logue's recording and hears himself reciting Shakespeare fluently, amazing both himself and the Duchess.
Bertie returns to Logue's treatment, where they work together on muscle relaxation and breath control, as Logue gently probes the psychological roots of the stammer, much to the embarrassment of the standoffish Bertie. Nevertheless, Bertie reveals some of the pressures of his childhood, among them his strict father; the repression of his natural left-handedness; a painful treatment with metal splints for his knock-knees; a nanny who favoured his elder brother, going so far as deliberately pinching Bertie at the daily presentations to their parents so that he would cry and his parents would not want to see him; unbelievably, not feeding him adequately ("It took my parents three years to notice," says Bertie); and the death in 1919 of his little brother, Prince John. As the treatment progresses, Lionel and Bertie become friends and confidants.
On 20 January 1936, King George V dies, and David, Prince of Wales (Guy Pearce) ascends the throne as King Edward VIII. However, David wants to marry Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), an American divorcée and socialite, which would provoke a constitutional crisis--the sovereign, as head of the Church of England, may not marry a divorced person.
At a party in Balmoral Castle, Bertie points out that David cannot marry Wallis. David accuses his brother of a medieval-style plot to usurp his throne, citing Bertie's speech lessons as an attempt to groom himself. Bertie is tongue-tied at the accusation, whereupon David resurrects his childhood taunt of "B-B-B-Bertie."
At his next treatment session, Bertie has not forgotten the incident. After he briefs Logue on the extent of David's folly with Wallis Simpson, Logue insists that Bertie could be king. Outraged, Bertie accuses Logue of treason and mocks Logue's failed acting career and humble origins, causing a rift in their friendship.
When King Edward VIII does in fact abdicate to marry, Bertie becomes King George VI. Feeling overwhelmed by his accession, the new king realises that he needs Logue's help, and he and the queen visit the Logues' residence to apologise. Lionel's wife is stunned to meet the royals in their modest home. When the king insists that Logue be seated in the king's box during his May 1937 coronation in Westminster Abbey, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Cosmo Lang (Derek Jacobi) questions Logue's qualifications. This prompts another confrontation between the king and Logue, who explains that he never claimed to be a doctor and had only begun practicing speech therapy by informal treatment of shell-shocked soldiers in the last war. When the king still isn't convinced of his own strengths, Logue sits in St. Edward's Chair dismissing the Stone of Scone as a trifle, whereupon the king remonstrates with Logue for his disrespect. The king then realises that he is as capable as those before him.
In September 1939, shortly after the United Kingdom's declaration of war with Germany, George VI summons Logue to Buckingham Palace to prepare for his radio address to the country. As the king and Logue move through the palace to a tiny studio, Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) reveals to the king that he, too, had once had a speech impediment but found a way to use it to his advantage. The king delivers his speech as if to Logue alone, who coaches him through every moment. Afterwards, the king steps onto the balcony of the palace with his family, where thousands cheer and applaud him.
A final title card explains that during the many speeches King George VI gave during World War II (1939-1945), Logue was always present. Logue and the king remained friends, and "King George VI made Lionel Logue a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1944. This high honour from a grateful King made Lionel part of the only order of chivalry that specifically rewards acts of personal service to the Monarch."