Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister from Georgia who led the non-violent civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
Martin Luther King, Jr.


Bus Boycott, Montgomery, AL:

Buses are integrated after a year-long protest led by Dr. King.


King visits India:

Dr. King is inspired by Gandhi's teachings and considers this trip a pilgrimage.


Children's March,

Birmingham, Alabama:

Public facilities are integrated after protest marches.  Thousands of children participate along with adults, using Dr. King's non-violent methods.


Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."


Opposition from some civil rights leaders:

Not all civil rights leaders agree with Dr. King's non-violent policies. Some begin to advocate violence.


Civil Rights March, Washington, DC:

250,000 people, black and white, participate.  Dr. King gives his  famous speech, “I have a dream.”


Civil Rights Act:

Stronger laws are enacted after the press publicizes segregationist violence against protesters in Birmingham.


Dr. King Awarded:

Dr. King  is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and is named "Man of the Year" by Time Magazine.


Voting Rights March, Selma Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama:

Following this march, a strong voting rights bill was passed by Congress. 


Chicago Freedom Movement, Chicago, IL:

Segregationists in the North react with great protest to the idea of integration.


Vietnam War Protest:

Dr. King makes the crucial decision to oppose the war, deciding that he cannot remain silent on the issue.


April 4, 1968
Dr. King Assassinated:

While in Memphis, Tennessee,  supporting striking sanitation workers, Dr. King is killed.

Dr. King Honored with National Holiday:

Public Law 98-144 is passed; birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. is made a federal legal holiday, first celebrated on January 20, 1986.


Click on a picture below to watch the video.

After the successful bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, Black Americans gained new hope and confidence.  Dr. King discusses this development in a 1957 television interview:

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3
Parts 1, 2, and 3 of "Open Mind" television program interview.

The American public reacted with horror to the violence that greeted the civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama.  As a result, President Kennedy introduced a new Civil Rights Act in 1963 and President Johnson signed it into law in 1964:

Violence in Birmingham   Kennedy and Civil Rights   Civil Rights Act Becomes Law
            Violence in                   Kennedy and              Civil Rights Act
           Birmingham                    Civil Rights                 Becomes Law

After his famous successes in the Civil Rights movement, Dr. King was asked to talk about his non-violent methods.  Some emerging Black Civil Rights leaders, including Malcolm X at the time of this interview, opposed King's non-violent philosophy:

Dr. King on the Non-Violence Movement   Malcolm X on Dr. King   Dr. King  on Malcolm X
              Dr. King                       Malcolm X                      Dr. King
         on Non-Violence               on Dr. King                  on Malcolm X

Dr. King reiterated his views on non-violence a year later in St. Augustine, Florida:

Dr. King  in Florida
Dr. King in Florida

One of Dr. King's most famous speeches was "I Have a Dream," given at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, in 1963:

I Have a Dream
I Have a Dream

Voting rights initiatives had begun in the South, when Dr. King, despite threats and intimidation tactics, led a voting rights march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama:

How Long?  Not Long.
How Long?  Not Long.

Bricks and bottles pelted demonstrators and cherry bombs exploded as they marched in support of open housing in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois:

Dr. King  in Chicago   Dr. King in Chicago
   Dr. King in Chicago

Dr. King's opposition to the Vietnam War triggered opposition to his stand even within the civil rights movement, and lost him the support of President Johnson:

Why I am Opposed to the War in Vietnam      On His Morals
     Why I am                     On His Morals
                Opposed to the                                                     
 War in Vietnam                                      

Dr. King saw the war in Vietnam as a crime against the poor:

Dr. King at Local 1199
Dr. King at Local 1199

Dr. King believed that it is important to oppose injustice even when such opposition is contrary to prevailing norms:

Is It Maladjustment?
Is It Maladjustment?

On the night before he died, Dr. King was called to give a speech at a mass meeting at Mason Temple, in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was helping lead demonstrations of striking AFSCME sanitation workers.  Since he was not feeling well he initially sent Rev. Ralph Abernathy in his stead, but he later relented when the people requested that he personally come and speak:

Excerpt 1   Excerpt 2   Excerpt 3
Three Excerpts from Dr. King's "Mountain Top" Speech

Shock, outrage, and sorrow followed Dr. King's murder in Memphis, Tennessee:

Assassination of Dr. King   Robert Kennedy Announces Dr. King's Death   Dr. King's Funeral
       1968 King                 Robert Kennedy                 Dr. King's      

   Assassination Report             Announces                      Funeral            
by Walter Cronkite           Dr. King's Death                                    

In 1963, after John F. Kennedy's assassination, Dr. King shared his prophetic thoughts on living under the threat of violence:

Dr. King Reacts to Kennedy's Assassination
Dr. King Reacts to Kennedy's Assassination

Throughout his career, Dr. King successfully fought against discouragement and self-doubt, and he encouraged others to do so:

A Knock at Midnight
A Knock at Midnight

This page last updated on 4/4/2018

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