This article will explain Who Nominated Martin Luther King Jr. for a Nobel Peace Prize. Martin Luther King Jr. was an American Baptist minister and activist. From 1955 until he died in 1968, he was one of the most important people in the civil rights movement. King worked to improve civil rights for people of color in the United States through nonviolence and civil disobedience. He was an African American church leader and the son of Martin Luther King Sr., an early civil rights activist and minister. Inspired by his Christian beliefs and Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent activism, he led targeted, nonviolent resistance against Jim Crow laws and other kinds of discrimination.
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The first peace prize nomination for Martin Luther King Jr.
In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the first time.
Since 1901, the Nobel Peace Prize has been given by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. This nomination came from the American Friends Service Committee (The Quakers) in Philadelphia, USA, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947. The date of the nomination was January 31, 1963.
The Committee thought about nominating Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963, and it looks like the letter arrived just in time to be considered that year. However, for some reason, the nomination was moved to the next year. “Besvart – Reserveres for 1964” is written on the letter (Answered – Reserved for 1964). The Committee may have thought that the nomination came too late.
“Dr. King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967, but the prize was not awarded to anyone that year. “I do not personally know of anyone more worthy than this gentle monk from Vietnam,” Dr. King wrote to the Nobel Institute in Norway.” #ThichNhatHanh #MLK
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) January 21, 2022
The AFSC Board of Directors signed the nomination, which said:
African leaders, who are perhaps most aware of racial tensions, are in several striking cases seeking to create a spirit of reconciliation and to use methods that will not increase the likelihood of violence. These leaders have been influenced and are being encouraged by the example of MARTIN LUTHER KING, Jr., whose work to resolve serious conflicts without violence is also helping to reduce in the United States the indiscriminate bitterness that condemns international organizations, and in particular the United Nations, because of the participation of people of non-white races and of the concern to promote “the dignity and worth of the human person” regardless of race.
One more nomination
In 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. got another nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize from Norway. It was written on January 30, 1964, by eight people in the Swedish Parliament (Sveriges Riksdag). Four of them were liberal politicians and the other four were social democrats.
The first Nobel Prize nomination for Martin Luther King Jr. arrived to the Norwegian Nobel Committee #OTD in 1963. The nomination came from a previous Peace Laureate, American Friends Service Committee. King was awarded the Peace Prize for his nonviolent campaign against racism. pic.twitter.com/0zzCisW3fn
— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) January 31, 2021
When the committee looked into Martin Luther King Jr.’s candidature, they only looked at these two nominations, the one from the American Friends Service Committee and the one from the Swedish Parliament.
43 other candidates
43 people were running for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. After the Norwegian Nobel Committee decided, 13 of these were given more attention. (This is on the so-called “short list.”) These 13 people ran for office:
- Fenner Brockway, British anti-war activist and politician (assessed also in 1961 and 1962)
- Hermann Gmeiner, philanthropist and the founder of SOS Children’s Villages (assessed also in 1963)
- Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia
- Josef L. Hromadka, Evangelical Lutheran theologian
- Martin Luther King Jr.
- Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Shah of Iran
- Paul-Henri Spaak, Belgian socialist politician and statesman,
- Clarence Streit, war correspondent (also assessed in 1957)
- Norman Thomas, socialist and pacifist
- William V.S. Tubman, President of Liberia
- Den internasjonale juristkommisjon (assessed also in 1962)
- The Norwegian Mission Society (Den Norske Misjonsselskap)
- UNICEF (assessed also in 1963).
The Committee didn’t look into four candidates any further because they didn’t have anything important to add. These people ran for office:
- Martin Buber, philosopher
- Cyrus Eaton, businessman and philanthropist
- Stephen Galatti, Director General of the AFS,
- American Field Service. Pugwash Continuing Committee
The Investigation By The Nobel Committee
The report on Martin Luther King Jr. was written by Kre D. Tnnesson, a consultant for the Norwegian Nobel Committee at the time. He went into great detail about King’s life and work. Martin Luther King Jr. seemed like an excellent choice to the Committee. First, he was in charge of an effective and robust mass movement. Second, he didn’t use violence to fight. Third, he was black, and since Albert Lutuli won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1960, the Committee seems interested in solving racial conflicts. Fourth, he wasn’t the leader of the country. Martin Luther King Jr. stood out as the best individual candidate in 1964 by a wide margin.
On October 14, 1964, the Norwegian Nobel Committee told the world that Martin Luther King Jr. had won the Nobel Peace Prize for that year.
On December 8, he arrived in Oslo, Norway, for the prize ceremony on December 10 at the Oslo University Aula.
Gunnar Jahn, the head of the Nobel Committee, gave a speech at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. In it, he said:
Today we pay tribute to Martin Luther King, the man who has never abandoned his faith in the unarmed struggle he is waging, who has suffered for his faith, who has been imprisoned on many occasions, whose home has been subject to bomb attacks, whose life and the lives of his family have been threatened, and who nevertheless has never faltered. To this undaunted champion of peace the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament has awarded the Peace Prize for the year 1964.
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.