Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Nobel Foundation –, Public Domain, source: (

source: (public domain) view terms

File: Martin Luther King, Jr.jpg

Created: 31 December 1963

Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968. Born in Atlanta,  King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, tactics his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi helped inspire.

King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC, he led an unsuccessful  1952 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He also helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War. He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”. J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, recorded his extramarital liaisons and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which Martin Luther King  interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted and imprisoned of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting. Sentenced to 99 years in prison for King’s murder, effectively a life sentence as Ray was 41 at the time of conviction, Ray served 29 years of his sentence and died from hepatitis in 1998 while in prison.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington State was also rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in  Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963).

Crowds surrounding the Reflecting Pool, during the 1963 March on Washington.

Photo by Warren K. Leffler – This image is available from the United States source: (Library of Congress) source: (Prints and Photographs division) under the digital ID source: (ppmsca.03130). This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required.

See source: (Commons: Licensing) for more information.

source: (Public Domain)

File: March on Washington edit.jpg

Uploaded: 8 December 2006

source: (

Photograph of White House meeting with Civil Rights Leaders. Front Row: Martin Luther King, Jr. Robert F. Kennedy, Roy Wilkins, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Walter P. Reuther, Whitney M. Young, A Philip Randolph Second Row: Second From Left, Roy Reuther, Rosa Gragg Top Row Third From Left James Farmer

By Department of the Interior. National Park Service (II). Region VI, National Capital Region.        (1916 – 1933), Photographer – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, source: (

source: (Public Domain)

File: Photograph of White House Meeting with Civil Rights Leaders. June 22, 1963 – NARA – 194190 (no border).tif

Created: 22 June 1963


Martin Luther King stands behind President Lyndon Baines Johnson as he signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and others, look on.

Cecil Stoughton, White House Press Office (WHPO)

source: (Public Domain) view terms

File: Lyndon Johnson signing Civil Rights Act, July 2, 1964.jpg

Created: 2 July 1964

President Lyndon B. Johnson meeting with Martin Luther King in the White House Cabinet Room, 1966

source: (Yoichi Okamoto) – Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. Image Serial Number: A2134-2A.

source: (Public Domain) view terms

File: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Johnson 2.jpg

Created: 18 March 1966

Martin Luther King speaking to an anti-Vietnam war rally at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, April 27, 1967.

Minnesota Historical Society

source: (cc by-sa 2.0)

File: Martin Luther King Jr St Paul Campus U MN.jpg

Created: 27 April 1967

King and Malcolm X, March 26, 1964. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X meet before a press conference. Both men had come to hear the Senate debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was the only time the two men ever met; their meeting lasted only one minute.

By Marion S. Trikosko, U.S. News & World Report Magazine – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3d01847. This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons: Licensing for more information., Public Domain, source: (

source: (Public Domain) view terms

File: MLK and Malcolm X USNWR cropped.jpg

Created: 26 March 1964

Martin Luther King Jr. statue over the west entrance of Westminster Abbey. Church of England, Anglican Communion. Installed in 1998, sculpted by Tim Crawley.

Own work

CC0 source: (ccoccby-sa 2.0)

File: Martin Luther King memorial Westminster Abbey.jpg

Created: 26 September 2006

King’s friend Mahalia Jackson (seen here in 1964) sang at his funeral. It is to be remembered that at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, Mahalia Jackson performed “I Been ‘Buked and I Been Scorned”, before King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Toward the end of the speech, he departed from his prepared text for a partly improvised peroration on the theme “I have a dream”, and it was prompted by Mahalia Jackson’s crying out to Martin: “Tell them about the dream, Martin!”

By Hugo van Gelderen (ANEFO) – GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief NL) 916-4047, CC BY 4.0, source: (

source: (ccby4.0)

File: MahaliaJackson1964.jpg

Created: 7 May 1964

The sarcophagus of Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia.

By Simon J. Kurtz – Own work, Public Domain, source: (

source: (Public Domain) view terms

File: Martin Luther King Jr Coretta Scott King Tomb.jpg

Created: 11 August 2007

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