Martin Luther King Jr. never intended to become a leading symbol for the Civil Rights Movement. When he moved to Montgomery in 1954, it was to become the pastor for the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church where he also aimed to finish his dissertation from Boston University. But King’s sermons grabbed the attention of the church and community. Dr. Ralph Bryson, a member of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, remembered hearing trial sermons from King when he was auditioning to be the church’s new pastor. “We heard several young men who gave excellent trial sermons. But when we heard Martin Luther King, we said there’s no reason to continue this, that is it,” Bryson stated.
Through his role as pastor, King began to take a more active role in the movement. When the Montgomery bus boycott began, he was nominated as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association, but as his position as a leader grew, so too did the threats against both his life and the life of his family. After the successful completion of the bus boycott, King’s house was bombed on September 30th, 1956, while his wife and young child were still inside.
Learn more about the bombing: