Skip to Main Content

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. : A Guide : Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was an African American Baptist Minister and leader in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. He was a prominent leader from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Dr. King led marches to end Jim Crow Segregation, the right to vote, and other civil rights issues including Labor rights and toward the end of his life, economic justice.

Dr. King believed that the only way to advance Civil Rights was through non-violent protest and civil disobedience.  King was inspired by the teachings of Jesus and modeled the non-violent activism of India's Mahatma Ghandi who fought against British colonial rule in India. Dr. King was also influenced by Dr. Benjamin Mays, the President of Morehouse College where Dr. King attended gaining admittance at the age of 15 years old after graduating from historic Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia. He was also influenced by Theologian Howard Thurman who showed Dr. King the value of non-violent protest. 

Dr. King led the bus boycotts in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 and became the first leader of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference).  In 1963 he helped organize non-violent protests in Birmingham, Alabama and gave his now, "I have a Dream" speech in 1963 at the March on Washington. In 1964, Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work non-violent resistance to racial oppression and inequality.  In 1965, Dr. King organized marches from Selma to Montgomery. Towards the end of his life, Dr. King wanted to end poverty and opposed Vietnam War.  In 1968 he was planning a "Poor People's Campaign"  march and occupation of Washington, D.C.

Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Last Speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 3, 1968)

The Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther, Jr.