January 15 (today) marked the 92th birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., US civil rights icon who was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968.
King was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. He was the son of early civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Sr.
King participated in and led marches for blacks’ right to vote, desegregation, labor rights, and other basic civil rights.
King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and later became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
As president of the SCLC, he led the unsuccessful Albany Movement in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize some of the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
King had also become a target for white supremacists, who firebombed his family home that January.
In 1960 King and his family moved to Atlanta, his native city, where he joined his father as co-pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church.
This new position did not stop King and his SCLC colleagues from becoming key players in many of the most significant civil rights battles of the 1960s.
Their philosophy of nonviolence was put to a particularly severe test during the Birmingham campaign of 1963, in which activists used a boycott, sit-ins and marches to protest segregation, unfair hiring practices and other injustices in one of America’s most racially divided cities.
He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis by James Earl Ray who was sentenced to 99 years’ imprisonment. At the time of his death, he had served 29 years of his sentence.