Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American civil rights leader who fought for racial and economic justice in the United States. King was a prominent figure in the civil rights movement and is best known for his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. in 1963. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his non-violent campaign to end racial segregation and discrimination. King’s work and legacy continue to inspire people around the world to fight for justice and equality.
1. Martin Luther King was a Civil Rights Activist
He was one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States of America. He fought peacefully for equality in a time when Black people were treated unfairly.
2. He was also a Reverend
Martin Luther King was a member of the Baptist Church and decided to become a preacher after being inspired by ministers who were prepared to stand up for racial equality.
From 1954 until 1960, Martin Luther King Jr. was the Reverend of the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.
3. He helped end segregation on buses
His first major role in the Civil Rights Movement came in 1955, after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a bus.
At the time, Black people weren’t allowed to sit at the front of the bus.
This sparked outrage from many people who believed in equality. Martin Luther King helped to organise a boycott of the city’s buses. A boycott means people avoiding using something, so no one who believed in civil rights used the buses. After 381 days of protest, a court finally ruled that such segregation laws should no longer be recognised.
4. Martin Luther King believed in peaceful protest
Martin Luther King was a great believer in peaceful protest . His protests never used violence, even when the protesters themselves were met with violence from the police.
5. He once gave a famous speech that inspires people even today called the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
In 1963, Martin Luther King gave a speech to over 200,000 people at a rally.
The “I Have a Dream” speech is one of the most famous speeches in history and talks of a dream of a society where black people and white people live together with equal rights.
Here is a section of the famous speech:
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia , the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
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. I have a dream today.”
6. Martin Luther King was assassinated on 4th April 1968
In 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The man who killed him was a racist, full of hatred.
Martin Luther King death led to an outpouring of anger among Black Americans and Civil Rights Activists, as well as national mourning.
7. Martin Luther King went to jail 29 times
Even though he only took part in peaceful protests, people that didn’t agree with the causes he was fighting for would find any reason to arrest him. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama.
8. He won the Nobel Peace Prize
On October 14, 1964, Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. The Nobel Peace Prize is a very special award that goes to an individual or a group helping make the world a more peaceful and equal world.
9. When Martin Luther King grew up, America operated segregation for Black people and White People
When Martin Luther King was growing up, life was hard for Black People. Even though slavery had been abolished, Black people were still treated as second class citizens.
States in the South of America operated under the ‘Jim Crow laws’. These laws kept black and white people separated – this was called ‘segregation’. Black people had different schools, toilets and even sections of the bus to white people. Things like their schools would be poorer and life was made harder for African Americans in every aspect of life. They were also denied the right to vote in elections.
10. The third Monday of January celebrates Martin Luther King Day
The day commemorates the life and all the things Martin Luther King achieved in his life. On the day, people are encouraged to “reflect on the principles of racial equality and nonviolent social change” that King dedicated his life to.
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