On September 1, 1954, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. became the full-time pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Serving the broader black American community since its founding in 1877, the church remains a place of historical and cultural significance. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974, and officially changed its name to the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, in memory of Dr. King in 1978. Until 1960, Dr. King resided at the church Parsonage located on South Jackson Street with his wife Coretta Scott King and the elder two of their four children. It was during his tenure as pastor that Dr. King organized and lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
As the home of a prominent leader in the Civil Rights Movement, the house became the target of several terrorist attacks. One month into the year long Montgomery Bus Boycott the house withstood the first of two bombings. An unknown assailant was witnessed walking half-way up to the house and throwing something against front door before running back to his car and speeding off. The subsequent explosion occurred while Mrs. King was inside with her 10-week old infant daughter and a friend from her church. The two women and the baby were unharmed. The second of the two bombings took place a year later in 1957, while the Kings were not at home and the house sat empty. At the conclusion of the bus boycott, just two days after the inauguration of desegregated seating, someone fired a shotgun through the front door of the King’s home while the family was having dinner in their dining room. Miraculously no one was injured.
This historic residence was home to twelve pastors of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church from 1920-1992. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, and currently operates as a museum. The nine-room clapboard Parsonage, built in 1912, has been restored to its appearance when Dr. King and his family lived there. Much of the furniture presently in the the living room, dining room, bedroom and study was actually used by Dr. King.
Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress