Martin Luther King, Jr. was a minister, activist and a African-American civil rights movement leader. He is best known for his role in advancing civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience. In 1955, he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott and in 1957, he helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He organized several nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He also helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his legendary “I have a Dream” speech. In October 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for fighting racial inequality through nonviolence.

On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis by James Earl Ray. His death caused more than 100 riots to break out across the United States. Ray was sentenced to 99 years in prison but later recanted his confession, and many still believe the gunman wasn't working alone.

On Aug. 28th 2011 — the 48th anniversary of the March on Washington — a memorial to King was held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The memorial consists of a 30-foot statue of King carved into the “Stone of Hope” breaking through two boulders representing the “Mountain of Despair.”


Legislation to declare Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday a national holiday was introduced in Congress every year after his assassination on April 4, 1968, but throughout the '70s the bills were constantly rejected.

In November 1983, President Ronald Reagan finally signed legislation creating the holiday. It was the first new federal holiday created since Memorial Day was established in 1948.

The holiday's first official year was 1986, but many states — most notably Arizona and New Hampshire — were slow to adopt the holiday. In 1999, New Hampshire became the last state to honor Dr. King with a holiday.


King and his dad were both born with the first name Michael, but later both changed their names to Martin. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was honored as Time magazine's Man of the Year in 1964 — one year after delivering his “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.. King was jailed 29 times. He was arrested for acts of civil disobedience and on trumped-up charges, such as when he was jailed in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1956 for driving 30 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone. In 1957, King was stabbed in the chest with a 7-inch letter opener at a book signing in Harlem, New York. King skipped grades nine and 12 and enrolled into Morehouse College at age 15. He was ordained before graduating college with a degree in sociology. King’s mother was also shot and killed. On June 30, 1974 69-year-old Alberta Williams King was shot by Marcus Wayne Chenault Jr. The deranged gunman said that Christians were his enemy and that although he had received divine instructions to kill King’s father, who was in the congregation, he killed King’s mother instead because she was closer. George Washington is the only other American to have had his birthday observed as a national holiday. King was arrested in 1963 for organizing a march in Birmingham, Alabama. That's where his famous essay “Letter from Birmingham Jail” came from. King was fatally shot April 4, 1968, on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was out there secretly smoking, and when his colleague Billy Kyles saw King was shot, he took the cigarette out of his hand so nobody would find out he smoked. When King married his wife Coretta, their honeymoon left a lot to be desired. Since they could not stay at a white-owned hotel, the newlyweds bunked up at a black-owned funeral home on their wedding night. At age 12, King attempted suicide after the death of his grandmother. There are 700 + streets named after King. There is one in almost every major city.


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” “The time is always right to do what's right.” “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

(Source:; Martin Luther King Biography and Quick Facts, The Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute; Speeches and Sermons; Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project, The King Center, Huffington Post, Yahoo Voices,,


Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” speech excerpt 1:

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” speech excerpt 2:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!”

Martin Luther King “I Have A Dream” speech excerpt 3:

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and 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.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “I've Been To The Mountaintop” speech excerpt 1:

“We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “I've Been To The Mountaintop” speech excerpt two:

“I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything, I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

MLK – I Have A Dream Speech part 1 :

MLK – I Have A Dream Speech part 2 :

MLK – I Have A Dream Speech part 3 :

MLK – I Have Been To The Mountaintop excerpt 1 :

MLK – I Have Been To The Mountaintop excerpt 2 :