The dream of Martin Luther King Jr.

A look at the life of a revolutionary leader who fought for the rights of African-Americans

"I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was a Baptist minister and social activist who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968
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"I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr

Inspired by advocates of non-violence such as Mahatma Gandhi, King sought equality for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and victims of injustice through peaceful protest.
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"I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr

He was the driving force behind watershed events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, which helped bring about such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965
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"I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr

King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a U.S. federal holiday since 1986.
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"I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929. Along with his older sister, the future Christine King Farris, and younger brother, Alfred Daniel Williams King, he grew up in the city’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood, then home to some of the most prominent and prosperous African Americans in the country.
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"I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks (1913-2005), secretary of the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus and was arrested. Activists coordinated a bus boycott that would continue for 381 days, placing a severe economic strain on the public transit system and downtown business owners. They chose Martin Luther King Jr. as the protest’s leader and official spokesman.
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"I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr

In his role as SCLC president, Martin Luther King Jr. traveled across the country and around the world, giving lectures on non-violent protest and civil rights as well as meeting with religious figures, activists and political leaders. (During a month-long trip to India in 1959, he had the opportunity to meet family members and followers of Gandhi, the man he described in his autobiography as “the guiding light of our technique of non-violent social change.”)
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"I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr

Martin Luther King Jr. worked with a number of civil rights and religious groups to organise the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, a peaceful political rally designed to shed light on the injustices African Americans continued to face across the country. Held on August 28 and attended by some 200,000 to 300,000 participants, the event is widely regarded as a watershed moment in the history of the American civil rights movement and a factor in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The march culminated in King’s most famous address, known as the “I Have a Dream” speech, a spirited call for peace and equality that many consider a masterpiece of rhetoric.
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"I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr

The events in Selma deepened a growing rift between Martin Luther King Jr. and young radicals who repudiated his non-violent methods and commitment to working within the established political framework. As more militant black leaders such as Stokely Carmichael rose to prominence, King broadened the scope of his activism to address issues such as the Vietnam War and poverty among Americans of all races. In 1967, King and the SCLC embarked on an ambitious program known as the Poor People’s Campaign, which was to include a massive march on the capital.
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"I have a dream" - Martin Luther King Jr

On the evening of April 4, 1968, King was fatally shot while standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, where he had traveled to support a sanitation workers’ strike. In the wake of his death, a wave of riots swept major cities across the country, while President Johnson declared a national day of mourning. James Earl Ray, an escaped convict and known racist, pleaded guilty to the murder and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. (He later recanted his confession and gained some unlikely advocates, including members of the King family, before his death in 1998.)
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