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American History Moment-Martin Luther King, Jr.


In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the law that established Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday to be observed on the third Monday in January. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister and social activist who played a major role in the civil rights movement in the 1950s until his assassination in 1968. Through peaceful protest, Dr. King sought equality and human rights for African Americans, victims of injustice and the economically disadvantaged. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. His father and maternal grandfather were Baptist ministers and his mother was a former schoolteacher. Dr. King grew up in a prosperous Atlanta neighborhood and was a gifted student, attending segregated public schools. At age 15 he was admitted to Morehouse College. The influence of the president of Morehouse led him to pursue the ministry. Dr. King continued his education at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, graduating in 1948. He went on to earn a doctorate from Boston University. He married Coretta Scott in 1953. The Kings resided in Montgomery, Alabama before returning to Atlanta in 1960.  Dr. King played an important role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington, where he made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. He organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which provided a national platform for his speeches. In 1964 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Dr. King was killed by a sniper’s bullet at Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968. 

From Jauflione Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution