- Occupation: Civil Rights Leader
- Born: January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, GA
- Died: April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN
- Best known for: His "I have a dream" speach
Martin Luther King Jr. was a civil rights activist in the 1950s and 1960s. He
led non-violent protests to fight for the rights of all people including
African Americans. He hoped that America and the world could become a
colorblind society where race would not impact a person's civil rights. His is
considered one of the great orators of modern times and his speeches still
inspire many to this day.
Where did Martin grow up?
Martin Luther Kin Jr. was born in Atlanta, GA on January 15, 1929. He
went to Booker T. Washington High School. He was so smart that he skipped two
grades in high school and started his college education at Morehouse College at
the young age of fifteen. After getting his degree in sociology from Morehouse,
Martin got a divinity degree from Crozer Seminary and then got his doctor's
degree in theology from Boston University.
Martin's dad was a preacher
which inspired Martin to purse the ministry as well. He had a younger brother
and an older sister. In 1953 he married Coretta Scott, later they would have
four children Yolanda, Martin, Dexter, and Bernice.
How did he get
involved in civil rights?
In his first major civil rights action,
Martin Luther King Jr. led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This started when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the
bus. As a result Martin led a boycott of the public transportation system. The
boycott lasted for over a year. It was very tense at times. Martin was arrested
and his house was bombed, but in the end he prevailed and segregation on the
Montgomery busses ended.
When did King give his famous "I have a
In 1963 Martin Luther King, Jr. helped to organize
the March on Washington. Over 250,000 people attended this march in an effort
to show the importance of civil rights legislation. Some of the issues the
march hoped to accomplish included an end to segregation in public schools,
protection from police abuse, and to get laws preventing discrimination in
It was at this march where Martin gave his "I have a Dream"
speech. This speech as become one of the most famous speeches in history. In
the end, the march and speech were a success in that Civil Rights Act was
passed a year later in 1964.
How did he die?
Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4. 1968 in Memphis, TN. He was shot
by James Earl Ray while standing on the balcony of his hotel.
Fun Facts about Martin Luther King Jr.
- King was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a national holiday.
- At the Atlanta premier of the movie Gone with the Wind, Martin sang with his
- There are over 730 streets in the United State named after Martin Luther
- One of his main influences was Mohandas Gandhi who taught protesting in a
- He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of
- The name on his original birth certificate is Michael King. This was a
mistake, however. He was supposed to be named after his father who was named
for the leader of the Christian reformation movement, Martin Luther.
- He is often referred to by his initials MLK.