MLK Jr. History


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Black American civil rights leader Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) addresses crowds during the March On Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, where he gave his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech.

Harper Tonnesen

Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and activist. He was one of the most important leaders in the Civil Rights Movement. 

MLK Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, GA. He died on April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, TN.

King was born into a college-educated, middle-class family. His father and maternal grandfather were Baptist preachers, so he aspired to become a leader. Within his lifetime, he gained a  solid education, studied medicine and law, and created a large extended family.

MLK Jr. was a gifted student. In fact, he was able to skip multiple grades in school and graduate around the age of 15.  

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is set on the official birthday of MLK. It is considered to be a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January each year.

Soon after MLK’s assassination, many people joined together to celebrate and honor his life.  However, the official MLK Day became a holiday on January 20th, 1986.

MLK Jr. is known for his “I have a dream” speech that he delivered on August 28th, 1963, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  He remarkably presented  his  speech while standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This speech called attention to Civil Rights, equality, and an end to racism in the United States. 

Here is an influential excerpt from MLK’s Speech: 

“I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”