In 1955 the 25-year old Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was content with receiving his first church, Dexter Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., and he and his wife, Coretta, were intent on building a family and someday taking over his father’s mega-church in Atlanta, but fate changed all that.
Montgomery’s NAACP President E. D. Nixon, and the overall Black community, was sick and tired of segregation as a whole, but the buses in particular, and was looking for a way to end it.
So one day, when NAACP Secretary and Youth Director Rosa Parks, a well respected woman in the community, was arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus for a White man, Nixon saw this as the opportunity to act against desegregation in Montgomery, starting with bus desegregation.
Parks wasn’t the first to be arrested for not giving up their seat to a White person. Many were kicked off the bus while others were arrested, depending on the driver. But her actions came at the right time and place.
Nixon used this as a spark calling a meeting at the largest church in the city headed by Rev. Ralph Abernathy. At these meetings an agenda to fight bus segregation and to select a leader of the bus boycott, Nixon chose that leader by challenging the young King to step out and step up.
Nixon later said he chose Rev. King because he was young with little to lose, unlike most of the older ministers and Blacks in Montgomery as a whole, and that he was an excellent speaker with a solid background.