January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968
King a black American Southern Baptist preacher became a key voice in the civial rights movment of the 60's opposing racism, segregation. He taught and practiced a model of active non-violent resitance or civil disobiedence.
Martin's grandfather and father were inturn both pastors of Ebenezer Baptist Church in atlanta. His mother was a teacher. King earned his own Bachelor of Divinity degree from Crozier Theological Seminary in 1951 and earned his Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University in 1955.
While at seminary King became acquainted with Mohandas Gandhi philosophy of nonviolent social protest. After a trip to India in 1959 where he entered into discussion with followers of Ghandi, he became more convinced than ever that nonviolent resistance was the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom.
As a pastor of a Baptist church in Montgomery, Alabama, King lead a Black bus boycott. King and several others were arrested and found guilty of obstruction of buisness. As the bus boycott dragged on, King was gained a national reputation. The ultimate success of the Montgomery bus boycott made King a national hero.
Letter from Birmingham Jail inspired a growing national civil rights movement. In 1963 King led a massive march on Washington DC where he delivered his now famous, I Have A Dream speech. King's tactics of active nonviolence (sit-ins, protest marches) put civil-rights squarely on the national agenda.
On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King at the age of thirty-nine was shot and killed while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee. At the time he was becoming more out spoken against the war in vietnam as well as focusing attention on a nationwide campaign to help the poor. Right up until his death he never wavered in his conviction that nonviolence must remain the central tactic of the civil-rights movement.