Martin Luther King, Jr.

A leader in the African American Civil Rights Movement

Early Life

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born as Michael on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. King always attended segregated schools, including Booker, T Washington High where he began showing values like excellence and low tolerance for injustice, that later ruled his life. He excelled in school and was able to skip a few grades and graduate early. He became a sociology major at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He graduated Morehouse when he was 19.
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Getting Involved

On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to sit in the back of the bus. As an African American it was illegal to sit in the front. In response to this, several groups within the black's community united to organize a boycott of the buses. For 382 days, King and other blacks maintained the boycott while whites in charge of the bus line and city resisted giving in to their demands. But luckily for the black community, U.S Supreme Court upheld a federal court decision that ended segregation in Montgomery. All the work King put in paid off!

Once Martin won the (non-violent) fight, it encouraged him to keep going and spread the non-violent civil right movement.

He began to work on many things. He made a book, Stride Toward Freedom. He also worked on increasing African American voting registration in the south and he put effort into desegregating restauraunts.

King is most known for his "I have a dream" speech that addressed the lack of progress to secure black rights. His speech was heard by over 200,000 people at the March of Washington. His speech brought people to realize segregation was wrong.

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In 1963 he was considered "Man of the Year"

On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. was rewarded the Nobel Peace Prize. When he received the announcement, he said he was gonna give every penny ($54,000) to the Civil Rights Movement.


Martin Luther King has made a huge impact on the life we live today. He is one of the reasons we live un segregated. President Kennedy used King's "I Have A Dream Speech" to promote the passage of what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Kennedy's successor, Lyndon Johnson got the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed by Congress. The act iliminated the foundation of segregation by forbidding discrimination in public places. (Lunch places, motels, theaters, service stations, etc.)
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He was killed on April 4, 1968 in Memphis Tennessee while he was working with striking sanitation workers by James Earl Ray, a white segregationist.


After King's choices and the actions he took, our nation has completely changed. Blacks and white use to not even be able to go to school together or be associated with on another but now blacks and whites are often seen as best friends. Overtime, segregation was put away and now it is completely gone, thanks to Martin Luther King (and other civil rights activists) . His legacy is perhaps best illustrated by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Words by Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

  • "We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools."
  • "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

Words About Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Martin Luther King Jr. is remembered as our prince of peace, of civil rights. We owe him something major that will keep his memory alive." -Morgan Freeman

"One of the greatest men to ever walk this land was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His life exemplified unity by bringing people together for the good of all. In any small way I hope to someday bring people together like Dr. King." -Zack Wamp

Annotated Bibliography

  • 1"Martin Luther King Jr." Gale Biography in Context. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Biography in Context. Web. 6 May 2016.

  • 2"The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington." UPI Photo Collection. 1963. Biography in Context. Web. 6 May 2016.

  • 3Civil Rights Movement." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. Ed. Thomas Carson and Mary Bonk. Detroit: Gale, 1999. Biography in Context. Web. 6 May 2016

  • 4"Martin Luther King, Jr." Contemporary Heroes and Heroines. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1990. Biography in Context. Web. 9 May 2016.

  • 5"Martin Luther King, Jr." Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1992. Biography in Context. Web. 9 May 2016.

  • 6Carson, Clayborne. "Martin Luther King, Jr." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. Gale, 2006. Biography in Context. Web. 9 May 2016.

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  • 9"Martin Luther King, Jr." Historic World Leaders. Ed. Anne Commire. Detroit: Gale, 1994. Biography in Context. Web. 9 May 2016

  • 10"President Lyndon B. Johnson shaking hands with Martin Luther King, Jr., after signing the Civil..." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 7: 1960-1969. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Biography in Context. Web. 9 May 2016.

  • 11Mary Bonk. Detroit: Gale, 1999. Biography in Context. Web. 6 May 2016.