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Tomorrow would have marked Dr. Martin Luther King’s 87th birthday, had an assassin’s bullet not cut short his life to a mere 39 years. But when you think about what he accomplished in such a short life, you can’t help but marvel at the symbolic victory he continues to win each and every year since his death.
Within a little more than 40 years this country would elect its FIRST Black President.
The walls of segregation would come tumbling down in may places around the United States.
An African American woman would transform her TV talk show to become one of the richest and most respected personalities in the world.
And oppressed people from Australia to South Africa would use the teachings of Dr. King to dismantle the discriminatory practices used to keep them for achieving their dreams.
That’s just the short list of countless developments around the world that stemmed from the ashes of a dreamer who died on the job.
Dr. King realized that the “Cause” was greater than he could ever imagine. And his life reminds us that we must pursue just causes and solve tough challenges that are waiting for our time and talent to tackle.
We’ll wrestle with this challenge as we celebrate the life and legacy of a man of action for ALL times.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Timeline
Martin Luther King Jr. is born on January 15 to the Reverend and Mrs. Martin Luther King Sr. His birthplace was Atlanta, Georgia. At the time, the family had one other child - a daughter. Later, they would have another son.
He graduates from high school at age 15 and begins attending Morehouse College. He was an extremely bright and intelligent man. He skipped over two grades in high school, which allowed him to start attending college when he was 15.
Martin Luther King Jr. graduates from Morehouse College, and goes right on to study at the Crozer Theological Seminary in Atlanta. His father was a Reverend, and although King Jr. had doubts about Christianity early in life, he went on to fully embrace the mission of the religion and how it was connected to his goals.
On February 25 of this year, he was ordained into the Baptist ministry at the age of 19.
He begins attending Boston University for graduate work. He studied systematic theology and received a Doctor of Philosophy.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King were married. They established their residency in Montgomery, Alabama.
He completed his Doctorate degree in Systematic Theology from Boston University.
He joined the Montgomery bus boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested on December 1 for refusing to give up her bus seat.
On December 5 King was elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association and he became the official spokesperson for the boycott, which became one of the most prominent events of the civil rights movement.
Martin Luther King Jr. created the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with 60 black ministers from Atlanta. The group's mission was to fight against segregation and racism.
On May 17th he gives a speech to 15,000 people in Washington D.C.
Congress passes the first Civil Rights Act.
He was stabbed in Harlem while signing his newly-published, first book Stride Toward Freedom.
He had been the pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. However during this year, he decided to leave that position so that he could focus on the civil rights movement full time.
He moves back to Atlanta to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Mr. and Mrs. King traveled to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Jawaharial Nehru to study the nonviolence techniques of Mohandas Gandhi.
He returned with his family to Atlanta and became co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father.
He was arrested during one of the lunch counter sit-ins which occurred in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was supposed to spend four months in jail; however, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy were able to get him released from jail.
Martin Luther King Jr. convinces the Interstate Commerce Commission to prohibit segregation on public transportation going between states.
The Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) started their first Freedom Ride in a bus through the southern states.
He is arrested in Albany, Georgia and jailed.
Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested in April with Ralph Albernathy in Birmingham Alabama for demonstrating without a permit. He spent eleven days in jail during which he wrote the Letter from Birmingham Jail.
The Birmingham campaign becomes a major turning point for the civil rights movement resulting in desegregation of the schools and retail establishments.
In June King led over 125,000 people on the Freedom Walk in Detroit in June.
The March on Washington occurs in August, and he makes the extremely famous I Have a Dream speech to 250,000 people.
King is declared Man of the Year by Time magazine.
King attends the July 2 signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the White House in Washington.
On December 10, at the age of 35, King becomes the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
King is arrested in February while he is demonstrating for voting rights in Selma, Alabama.
Governor George Wallace refuses to grant a permit to the 500 marchers in King's march from Selma to Montgomery designed to show the need for voter rights and to support the Voting Rights Bill which was unsigned. The march continued and over 10,000 started the march with King, joined by another 25,000 in Montgomery.
In January King moves into a Chicago slum tenement in order to bring to light the housing problems that the black community faced.
In June Martin Luther King Jr., along with other individuals, starts the March Against Fear in the south.
The Supreme Court upholds the 1963 Birmingham conviction and King spends four days in the the Birmingham jail.
In November the Poor People's Campaign begins and is targeted at people who were facing poverty.
King announces that the Poor People's Campaign will march on Washington to demand support of the $12 billion Economic Bill of Rights which guaranteed employment, income to those who are unable to work and the end of discrimination.
King marches in support of sanitation workers in Memphis.
He delivers the I've Been to the Mountaintop speech in Memphis.
On April 4, he is shot while standing on the balcony at his hotel, and later dies. His death is followed by riots in 130 U.S. cities. His funeral was on April 9th and had international attendance.
On November 2, Martin Luther King Day was proclaimed as a federal holiday by President Ronald Reagan.
Martin Luther King Day first observed.
Martin Luther King Day observed nationwide for the first time.
Martin Luther King Jr. memorial dedicated in Washington D.C.
Carole (bottom left with different hairstyle) with members of the Diversity Collegium.
Dr. Roosevelt Thomas is the third from the right. Date: 1999 or 2000 at one of our meetings in Northern California
Because Of Him, Dignity For All People Spreads Worldwide...
A Tribute To Diversity Pioneer The Late Dr. Roosevelt Thomas
1944 - 2013
by Carole Copeland Thomas, MBA, CDMP
In the early 1990s when I was building my business and my diversity practice, I was invited to join a newly formed group called the Diversity Collegium. Co-founded by Dr. Price Cobbs, Dr. Roosevelt Thomas and other practitioners in 1991, the group put aside its competitiveness and banded together to advance the cause of diversity. I was in the second round of consultants invited to join the group. And meeting and working with Roosevelt, Price and the others significantly impacted my business and reinforced my commitment to the field. It also reaffirmed my belief and commitment to collaborating with others and coalition building.
I stayed in the Collegium until 2002, but always respected my colleagues, especially the insightful wisdom of Roosevelt Thomas. He was a quiet gentle giant, steadily pushing diversity in a forward direction. His 1990 article “From Affirmative Action to Affirming Diversity” was the mainstay of every diversity practitioner I knew. And the books he wrote formed the backdrop of the business case for diversity.
He was respected around the world and loved for his wise counsel and wisdom. Last week after exercising in his home, he fell, hit his head and never regained consciousness. His death was swift and sudden. Today what would have been his 69th birthday was a somber and stately funeral at Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta. Left behind to mourn are his wife Judge Ruby Thomas, their children, grand child, extended family and the entire world of diversity and inclusion indebted to his contribution to the field.
Click Here To Download The Official Press Release Issued By The Diversity Collegium.
And please visit www.diversitycollegium.org for more information about the wonderful organization I called home for many years.
Roosevelt Thomas will be missed by all of us, but never forgotten. My thoughts and prayers go with his beloved wife, Rudy, children, grandchild, and extended family members.
We are all so blessed to have known him. His contributions to our global society will be felt for generations to come.
-Carole Copeland Thomas, MBA, CDMP
Click Here To Read The Diversity Collegium Press Release About The Death Of Dr. Roosevelt Thomas
Your Comments Or Reflections About Dr. Roosevelt Thomas Are Welcome
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.