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Depression-era breadlines heightened King’s awareness of economic inequities, and his father’s leadership of campaigns against racial discrimination in voting and teachers’ salaries provided a model for the younger King’s own politically engaged ministry.
Pius Barbour, he reacted skeptically to a presentation on pacifism by Fellowship of Reconciliation leader A. Even as he continued to question and modify his own religious beliefs, he compiled an outstanding academic record and graduated at the top of his class.
In 1951, King began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University’s graduate school, which was dominated by personalist theologians such as Edgar Brightman and L. The papers (including his dissertation) that King wrote during his years at Boston University displayed little originality, and some contained extensive plagiarism; but his readings enabled him to formulate an eclectic yet coherent theological perspective.
During his undergraduate years at Atlanta’s Morehouse College from 1944 to 1948, King gradually overcame his initial reluctance to accept his inherited calling. Mays influenced King’s spiritual development, encouraging him to view Christianity as a potential force for progressive social change.
Religion professor George Kelsey exposed him to biblical criticism and, according to King’s autobiographical sketch, taught him “that behind the legends and myths of the Book were many profound truths which one could not escape” ( ).
Surgery to remove it was successful, but King had to recuperate for several months, giving up all protest activity.
One of the key aspects of King’s leadership was his ability to establish support from many types of organizations, including labor unions, peace organizations, southern reform organizations, and religious groups.In addition, his extensive ties to the National Baptist Convention provided support from churches all over the nation; and his advisor, Stanley Levison, ensured broad support from Jewish groups.King’s recognition of the link between segregation and colonialism resulted in alliances with groups fighting oppression outside the United States, especially in Africa.King admired both educators as deeply religious yet also learned men and, by the end of his junior year, such academic role models and the example of his father led King to enter the ministry.He described his decision as a response to an “inner urge” calling him to “serve humanity” ( 3).Writing after his return, King stated, “I left India more convinced than ever before that non-violent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom” ( 3).Early the following year, he moved his family, which now included two children—Yolanda and Martin Luther King, III—to Atlanta in order to be nearer to SCLC headquarters in that city and to become co-pastor, with his father, of Ebenezer Baptist Church.In March 1957, King traveled to Ghana at the invitation of Kwame Nkrumah to attend the nation’s independence ceremony.Shortly after returning from Ghana, King joined the American Committee on Africa, agreeing to serve as vice chairman of an International Sponsoring Committee for a day of protest against South Africa’s apartheid government.As early as 1956, labor unions, such as the United Packinghouse Workers of America and the United Auto Workers, contributed to the MIA, and peace activists such as Homer Jack alerted their associates to activities.Activists from southern organizations, such as Myles Horton’s Highlander Folk School and Anne Braden’s Southern Conference Educational Fund, were in frequent contact with King.