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Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Martin Luther King, Jr.
King in 1964
Born Michael King, Jr.
January 15, 1929(1929-01-15)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Died April 4, 1968(1968-04-04) (aged 39)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Occupation Clergyman, activist
Awards Nobel Peace Prize (1964), Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977, posthumous), Congressional Gold Medal (2004, posthumous)

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)[1] was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He fought for civil rights.

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was the son of Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. His father was also a civil rights leader. He was married to Coretta Scott King.

He became a Baptist minister. He worked hard to make people understand that black people should always be treated equally to white people. He gave speeches and led rallies to encourage African Americans to protest without the need for violence. One peaceful strategy was for African Americans to have sit-ins.

This is where they would sit in a restaurant seat that was supposed to be only for white people. They would politely ask for some food and refuse to leave until someone gave them food. Another strategy that King used was leading boycotts. This is where people would refuse to buy goods or services from people who did not treat white people and black people the same. King also helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

King was active from the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 to 1956 until his murder by James Earl Ray in April 1968. King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. Hundreds of streets and a county in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor. A memorial statue on the National Mall was opened to the public in 2011.

Early life[edit | edit source]

King was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929. Although the name "Michael" appeared on his birth certificate, his name was later changed to Martin Luther in honor of German reformer Martin Luther.[2]

He first began to be well known in 1955 when he led a protest against the way black people were segregated on buses. At that time they had to sit at the back of the bus, separate from white people. He soon became world-famous when he told his supporters, and the people who were against equal rights and that only peaceful ways should be used to solve the problem.

King speaking at the March on Washington, speaking his I have a dream famous Speech

After graduating from college in 1948, he decided he was not exactly the type of person to join the Baptist Church. So, he was not sure what kind of career he wanted. He considered a career in medicine and law. He rejected both and joined the Baptist Church. He studied at a theological seminary in Pennsylvania. While studying there, King learned about the non-violent methods used by Mahatma Gandhi against the British in India. King was convinced that such methods would help the civil rights movement.

He was made the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association. This association was created during the boycott. He became an important leader of the boycott. King was arrested for starting a boycott. He was fined $500 with $500 more in court costs.[3] His house was fire-bombed. Others involved with MIA were also intimidated. However, by the end of 1956, segregation had been removed in Montgomery and bus integration had been introduced. Another result of the boycott was the starting of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). This organization was committed to the use of non-violence. Its motto was "Not one hair of one head of one person should be harmed." Martin Luther King was elected its president.

King in March 1964

In 1963, a civil right march in Washington, DC happened that made King even more famous. The march was a major success. It was officially called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It was held on August 28, 1963. The final speaker was Martin Luther King, Jr. He made his legendary 'I have a Dream' speech which was heard throughout the world. It told people about the civil rights movement in America. In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The year 1964 was also when the Civil Rights Act was passed. This act banned many kinds of discrimination against black people.[4] King then moved on to a bill that would make sure that black Americans would be allowed to vote. This led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. It made it against the law to stop somebody from voting because of their race.

After this, he continued to work with many others to fight against poverty and the Vietnam War.

King had clearly made enemies in his rise to fame. The Ku Klux Klan did what they could to hurt his reputation, this was especially in the South. Even the FBI kept a close eye on him.[5] On the evening of April 4, 1968, at 6:01 pm, while King was standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was preparing to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, the lone, muffled sounds of an loud noise, like a violent clap of hands, or the crack of wood, or perhaps a firecracker was heard. A bullet entered through his right cheek, and travelled down his neck, severing the jugular vein and major arteries in the process before lodging in his shoulder. With his eyes shut, King fell onto the floor unconscious. The unconscious King was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where doctors opened his chest and performed manual heart massage. He never regained consciousness and died at 7:05 p.m. According to Taylor Branch, King's autopsy revealed that though he was only 39 years old, he had the heart of a 60-year-old man. His death led to riots in many cities. In March 1969, James Earl Ray was found guilty of killing King. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison. James Earl Ray died in 1998, his brother having disconnected life support he was attached to since February 11.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

In 1986, America created a national holiday. It is commonly known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, in his honor. It is celebrated on the third Monday of the month of January. This is around the time of his birthday. The holiday was created because people had campaigned for this to happen.

Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize and his speech goes on to other people who faced racism. He also gained all rights for blacks. He made African American lives much easier to live.

Other pages[edit | edit source]

"I Have a Dream" is the name of "I Have a Dream" is the name of a speech Martin Luther King, Jr. gave on August 28, 1963 while standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.. In his speech, he spoke of his wish for the future. His wish was that people of different races could live together peacefully in the United States. The speech was given to over 200,000 supporters a speech Martin Luther King, Jr. gave on August 28, 1963 while standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.. In his speech, he spoke of his wish for the future. His wish was that people of different races could live together peacefully in the United States. The speech was given to over 200,000 supporters

References[edit | edit source]