Martin Luther King, Jr. was the charismatic leader of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Chosen to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott at its genesis in 1955, the year-long nonviolent struggle brought King under the scrutiny of a wary and divided nation. However, his direction, spokesmanship, and the resultant victory of a Supreme Court ruling against bus segregation, cast him in a brilliant light.
King then persevered in his quest to obtain civil rights for a nation of African Americans. He formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to coordinate nonviolent protests and delivered over 2,500 speeches addressing America"s racial injustices, with I Have a Dream being his most memorable.
When King was assassinated in 1968, the nation shook with the impact; violence broke out in over 100 cities. To many, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a hero.
Dates: January 15, 1929 -- April 4, 1968
Also known as: Michael Lewis King, Jr. (born as); Reverend Martin Luther King
When Martin Luther King, Jr. opened his eyes for the first time Tuesday, January 15, 1929, he beheld a world that would view him scornfully only because he was black.
Born to Michael King Sr., a Baptist minister, and Alberta Williams, a Spelman College graduate and former schoolteacher, King lived in a nurturing environment with his parents and older sister, Willie Christine, in the Victorian home of his maternal grandparents.
(A younger brother, Alfred Daniel, would be born 19 months later.)
Alberta"s parents, Rev. A.D. Williams and wife Jennie, lived in a prosperous section of Atlanta, Georgia known as “black Wall Street.” Reverend Williams was pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, a well-established church within the community.
Martin -- named Michael Lewis until he was five -- thrived with his siblings in a secure middle-class family and had a normal, happy upbringing. Martin enjoyed playing football and baseball, being a paper boy, and doing odd jobs. He wanted to be a fireman when he grew up.
A Good Name