Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Born 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, GA.
Assassinated 4 April 1968 in Memphis, TN

The Jim Crow Laws segregated blacks from whites while claiming separate but equal services. Although outlawed in 1908, many areas of the United States still upheld these practices and in essence continued the segregation.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He entered college in Atlanta, Georgia at the young age of 15 and later attended divinity school in Pennsylvania and earned his doctorate degree in Boston, Massachusetts. After graduation he was asked to become the minister for a church in Montgomery, Alabama.

It was in Montgomery, Alabama that an African American woman named Rosa Parks refused to give her bus seat to a white man. After her arrest, Dr. King was chosen to head a publicity campaign to inform the blacks living in Montgomery of a bus boycott. At that time, 75% of the bus passengers were black. On January 30, 1956 one month later, Dr. King’s home was bombed with his wife and baby daughter narrowly escaping. In December of that same year the bus segregation was ruled unconstitutional and the boycott was ended.

In 1957 Dr. King helped establish the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to coordinate nonviolent protest groups in the nation. King attended sit-ins and other nonviolent demonstrations, giving speeches and sometimes being jailed or personally attacked.

On August 28, 1963 in Washington, DC, King spoke to over 200,000 people in the largest civil rights demonstration to date. On December 10, 1964 in Norway he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed by a white man named James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. His assassination caused rioting across the country. He was buried on April 9 in Atlanta, Georgia after thousands marched through the city in a funeral parade. Two days after Dr. King's burial, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

President Ronald Reagan signed legislation on November 2, 1983 which made Dr. King’s birthday a national holiday.

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