Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Memphis, Tennessee on January 15th, 1929. Born to Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King, his name was originally Michael King.
He became an activist within the African American Civil Rights Movement very early in his life, leading the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott when he was only 26 years old, in 1955. He served as the very first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), an organization which he helped to create. At the 1963 March on Washington, one of the largest political rallies for human rights in United States history, he gave his historic "I Have a Dream" Speech which is still famous today and has helped to establish him as one of the greatest orators in American History.
In 1964 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolence, a method of protest that he was most famous for. Branching out from his role as an African-American civil rights activist, King also spoke out against the Vietnam War, and became focused on helping the nation's impoverished population. He was in the process of planning a movement called the Poor People's Campaign, but before he could carry it out he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The movement was carried out after his death, with thousands of people turning out to protest. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004
Martin Luther King Day (established in 1986) will be celebrated on Monday, January 21 in 2013. Follow the links for biographies and related books on Martin Luther King, Jr.
Jan 21: Youth Will Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at U-M
Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads: Understanding Race