Jet on MLK - 60 Years Later

Images courtesy of Salem State University Archives & Special Collections

Jet magazine began in 1951 as a “Weekly Negro News Magazine” and covered everything from beauty advice to the start of the Civil Rights movement. Sixty years ago, April 1956, Jet magazine chronicled a young pastor from Montgomery, Alabama by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At the time, Dr. King had recently been chosen to be the leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Montgomery Improvement Association, following Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus.

Jet magazine dubbed Dr. King as “Alabama’s modern Moses” and shared an in-depth look at his childhood as a quiet boy from Georgia whose family was rooted in the church and had a history of social action. These experiences would shape Dr. King’s style of protesting into peaceful, non-violent activism.
Jet magazine wrote: “To Montgomery, Alabama’s 50,000 Negroes, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is no ordinary Baptist minister. In fact, he never wanted to be a minister at all. But as the pacifist leader of the city’s thousands of footsore Negroes, who have traded their crushed spirits for new dignity and tired feet, Rev. King has become a symbol of divinely-inspired hope, a kind of modern Moses who has brought new self-respect to southern Negroes.”

Dr. King and his supporters spent a little over a year boycotting Montgomery’s bus system. Although their protests were peaceful, they were met with violent attacks and harassment. After many setbacks, the activists were granted victory when the Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was illegal, on November 13, 1956.

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

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