Martin Luther King was a clergyman and one of the most prominent members of the civil rights movement in the 20th century.
He was born on January 15, 1929. He became famous in the 1950 and 1960’s through opposition to racial segregation in the United States of America. King promoted non-violent methods of opposition such as boycotts or sit-ins.
In 1963 he helped organize March on Washington; the march drew hundreds of thousands of civil rights supporters to Washington, D. C., for a mass rally. At this march he delivered his most celebrated speech. He stressed the importance of non-violent protest and described a possible future of racial harmony in the US. He said: “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream… I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be charged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.
After this march Martin Luther King was put into jail; there he wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” which he addressed to his fellow clergymen. In this letter he defended the civil rights movement, saying that without forceful actions like this march, equal rights for black people would never be gained. He claimed “one who breaks an unjust law must do it openly, lovingly”. Such a person, King said, is showing respect for law because he insists that law should be just.
In 1964 Martin Luther King received the Nobel Prize for peace. He was assassinated by James Earl Ray in 1968. A national holiday each January 15 commemorates his life.