Martin Luther King Jr. 1929 – 1968 CE, was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968.
On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.
In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. Following this event, riots followed in many U.S. cities. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971, and finally as a U.S. federal holiday in 1986. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King Jr
About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr from the King Center in Atlanta. “During the less than 13 years of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from December, 1955 until April 4, 1968, African Americans achieved more genuine progress toward racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. Dr. King is widely regarded as America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence and one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.” The King Center
Letter from a Birmingham Jail One of King’s most useful set of writings is his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. He offers ideas, motivations, hope and promise here, and they function as a useful set of materials in examining his philosophy and the circumstances within the civil rights movement. The letter defends nonviolent resistance to institutionalized and social racism. He says that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws and to take direct action rather than waiting for justice to come through the courts, and perhaps not for too long a time. King writes in this, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.
King’s most famous speech is the one called “I have a Dream”, given on the steps of of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963, in which he calls for an end to racism in the United States and called for civil and economic rights for all people of color. Delivered to over 250,000 civil rights supporters, the speech was a defining moment of the civil rights movement.
Excerpt from I Have a Dream
PBS Robert Kennedy’s moving remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr.
Eulogy for Martin Luther King Jr
- this is located in Atlanta ↵