Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By   •   January 20, 2014   •   Topics: ,

mlk jr. and billy graham

Billy Graham was in Australia at the time of King’s death. He remembers the moment someone approached him with news of King’s assassination, which was followed by journalists seeking a quote: “I was almost in a state of shock. Not only was I losing a friend through a vicious and senseless killing, but America was losing a social leader and a prophet, and I felt his death would be one of the greatest tragedies in our history.”

Describing how he met King during a 1957 Crusade meeting in New York City, Mr. Graham writes in his autobiography, “One night civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom I was pleased to count a friend, gave an eloquent opening prayer at the service; he also came at my invitation to one of our Team retreats during the Crusade to help us understand the racial situation in America more fully.”

As their friendship grew, King asked Mr. Graham to call him by his nickname. “His father,” explains Graham, “who was called Big Mike, called him Little Mike. He asked me to call him just plain Mike.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., entered the Christian ministry and was ordained in February 1948 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, at the age of 19. In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala.

While there, King was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks. He resigned from Dexter Avenue Baptist in 1959 to move back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

King credited Mr. Graham with having a significant part in reducing the tension between whites and blacks in the South. In 1965, Mr. Graham canceled a tour of Europe to preach a series of crusades in Alabama, praying that the Gospel would tear down walls of division between the races and seeing the importance of his work alongside King’s.

King later said, “Had it not been for the ministry of my good friend Dr. Billy Graham, my work in the civil rights movement would not have been as successful as it has been.”

During the civil rights movement, Mr. Graham preached: “Jesus was not a white man; He was not a black man. He came from that part of the world that touches Africa and Asia and Europe. Christianity is not a white man’s religion, and don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s white or black. Christ belongs to all people; He belongs to the whole world.”

Reflecting on how his thinking changed through the years, Mr. Graham writes, “I cannot point to any single event or intellectual crisis that changed my mind on racial equality. At Wheaton College, I made friends with black students, and I recall vividly one of them coming to my room one day and talking with deep conviction about America’s need for racial justice.

“Most influential, however, was my study of the Bible, leading me eventually to the conclusion that not only was racial inequality wrong but Christians especially should demonstrate love toward all peoples.”

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41 Comments

  1. Bernard Tetteh-Kwabla says:

    this wondrous write up still shows that Our God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

  2. Bruce says:

    I thank God for Martin Luther King, Jr., and Billy Graham, for their hard work and prayers.

  3. Delvyn says:

    It warms my heart that Dr. King placed God first in his life, and I'm empowered by Dr. Graham's discernment to recognize what God was doing through Dr. King. This article shows Dr. Graham's heart, discernment, and what he stood for; equality in God!

  4. Ana says:

    May our great God be praised for giving us in our lifetime godly leaders. And may we desire to be godly leaders as well in all that we do. All glory to GOD through His son Jesus Christ. Amen.

  5. Kimberly says:

    Good men become Great Leaders,only to follow someone who guided them in truth,peace,and love. Their Greatest feat was surrender to a man called Jesus.

  6. Mikeal says:

    MLK and Rev. Graham are great heroes of the Christian faith! God used these warriors of peace to show the world what can be done for good in ways that show Christlike character.

  7. Janice says:

    It is such a blessing to read that Dr. Graham preached that Jesus was not white or black and to tell the area where He was born. People need to hear that. I love Dr. Graham and Dr. King and I thank God for all that he has blessed them to do for mankind. I never knew that they were friends. What a nice thing to learn about them. My prayer is for all races to be reconciled to each other the way that it should be. I wish Dr. King was here today but we must tell our children and grandchildren about him so that his legacy can be passed down to each generation and not be forgotten. The young people don't know what he endured to make it possible for us to do things today that we couldn't do before. They need to be taught the history that occurred during Dr. Kings time. Be blessed.

  8. Emmanuel says:

    I sincerely thank God for people like Dr King and Dr Billy Graham. We still have work to do in order to build on what these men of God and others have done. All over the world, there is a dire need to eliminate discrimination and racism. God help us!

  9. Pastor Dapo Bolaji, Tampa says:

    Long live to the great of Apostle of peace. You have touched countless lives and still remain so simple and unassuming about it. You are a hero to me. May God to grant you more of His grace.

  10. Annie says:

    Dr. King and Dr. Billy Graham, you are great blessing to every Christian….., Thank you for your sacrifices….., THE WORD OF GOD DECLARES….., FOR THERE IS NO RESPECT OF PERSONS WITH GOD (Romans 2:11). THANK YOU MY JESUS, YOUR UNCHANGING LOVE, AMEN!