This biography sheds new light on King's development as a civil rights leader in Montgomery among activists such as Rosa Parks, E.D. Nixon, and others.
In Becoming King, Troy Jackson demonstrates how Martin Luther King's early years as a pastor and activist in Montgomery, Alabama, helped shape his identity as a civil rights leader. Using the sharp lens of Montgomery's struggle for racial equality to investigate King's burgeoning leadership, Jackson explores King's ability to connect with people across racial and class divides. In particular, Jackson highlights King's alliances with Jo Ann Robinson, a young English professor at Alabama State University; E. D. Nixon, a middle-aged Pullman porter and head of the local NAACP chapter; and Virginia Durr, a courageous white woman who bailed Rosa Parks out of jail.
Drawing on countless interviews and archival sources, Jackson offers a comprehensive analysis of King's speeches before, during, and after the Montgomery bus boycott. He demonstrates how King's voice and message evolved to reflect the shared struggles, challenges, experiences, and hopes of the people with whom he worked. Jackson also reveals the internal discord that threatened the movement's hard-won momentum and compelled King to position himself as a national figure, rising above the quarrels to focus on greater goals.