Baptist minister and leader in the civil rights movement, martyr.
Luther King, Jr.
Raised in Atlanta,
Georgia as the son and grandson of Baptist ministers, King had deep roots
in African-American Churches.
After seminary studies to prepare for ministry, King went on to graduate
studies in systematic theology at Boston University; his studies included
the work of Walter Rauschenbusch. In 1954
King became pastor of a Baptist
church in Montgomery, Alabama. Soon he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott,
an effort to end racial segregation on public transportation. King later
became a pastor at Ebenezer Baptist church in Atlanta, where he continued
leading the civil rights movement
for social change through non-violent protest. In 1957 King became president
of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) which sought to
register African-American voters and to desegregate public accommodations.
In many southern cities King led protests, marches, and campaigns to focus
national attention on the need for racial and economic justice. In 1963
King led a march on Washington D.C., where he delivered the famous "I
Have a Dream" speech, calling America to live up to its promise of equality
for all citizens. In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In later
years he denounced the Vietnam War and became more radical in his critique
of American society. On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis,
Tennessee; his birthday became a national holiday in 1986.