The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior — born January 15th, 1929 — was a pastor, crusader and the youngest man ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. His name has become synonymous with the civil rights struggle.
- He enrolled in Morehouse College at age 15 and found his calling. Before graduating with a sociology degree, he was ordained a minister. In 1955, King earned a PhD in theology from Boston University.
- King became the pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. At a time when racial segregation was still the law in Southern states, he became involved in local civil rights efforts that became a national movement.
- On August 28th, 1963, a quarter-million people marched on Washington, D.C. to demand civil rights and heard his “I Have a Dream” speech. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident — that all men are created equal.”
- Two decades after that momentous speech, the third Monday in January was made a federal holiday commemorating his birthday. Since the first observance on January 20th, 1986, it has been an occasion for people to remember King’s life and re-dedicate themselves to achieving that dream.
- In 1964, at age 35, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
- In 1968, King went to Memphis to support a strike by sanitation workers, most of whom were black. On April 4th, he was assassinated while standing on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel. The Lorraine has since been converted into a national civil rights museum.
To remember the civil rights leader’s importance and impact,check out these video clips.