Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American minister and activist in the African American Civil Rights Movement.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Georgia in 1929. In the South, where he grew up, segregation was common. Before starting college, King spent a summer working at a tobacco farm in Connecticut in the North. Here, he experienced how peacefully the races mixed. 'Negroes and whites go to the same church,' he wrote in a letter to his parents. 'I never [thought] that a person of my race could eat anywhere.'
The Montgomery Bus Boycott
On the 1st of December, 1955, Rosa Parks – an African American woman – refused to give up her seat to a white man in a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested for violating the city's segregation law and, as a consequence, civil rights activists formed the Montgomery Improvement Association to boycott the public transport system. The Association chose Martin Luther King, Jr., who had recently moved into town to work as a church minister, as their leader. One year and a few weeks later, the city's buses were desegregated.
King believed that it was important to fight for civil rights without the use of violence. From then on, he would lead and participate in non-violent protests including marches and sit-ins, and in the years from 1960 to 1965, his influence grew. He was handsome, well spoken and determined, and quickly caught the attention of the news media.
The Civil Rights Movement became very influential. In 1964, discrimination against racial, ethnic, national, and religious minorities and women was outlawed. Later that year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo for his efforts.
On the 4th of April, 1968, King was killed by a sniper's bullet as he stood on a balcony in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers. The assassin, James Earl Ray, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the murder.
Ray later withdrew his confession, and many people believe that he was actually innocent. He died in prison on the 23rd of April, 1998, at the age of 70.