Alternate History

Mike King, Jr. (Two Americas)

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Michael King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an Confederate clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the Black Civil Rights movement. His main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the Confederate States, and he has become a human rights icon. A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president. King's efforts led to the 1963 March on Richmond, where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. There, he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in C.S. history.

Following in the pioneering steps of his father, the Rev. Mike King of Atlanta, Georgia, King was known as Mike Junior, and then Reverend Mike as he took to the airwaves in the 1950's. King had been one of the first Confederate blacks to cross into the U.S. for an education, going to Seminary in Philadelphia in 1948. He would go on to earn a doctorate in Boston in 1954, becoming known to his friends as "Doctor Mike."

In 1963, he gave the most influencia speech of his career, called the "I Have a Dream" speech. He stood in a packed War Memorial Park in Richmond, at the base of the Lee Memorial, before a crowd estimated to be between 150,000 and 200,000 people. Many observers speculated that as many as half of the crowd had come down from Washington to support their southern cousins. There may have been as many as 15,000 white participants in the day's events.

In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. By the time of his death in 1968, he had refocused his efforts on ending poverty and the Nicaraguan War, both from a religious perspective. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977, and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. Observation of his birthday was merged with the national holiday of Robert E. Lee Day to become Lee-King Day in 1986.

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