Who Is Martin Luther King Jr?


Quick Answer

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister in Alabama and Georgia who went on to become one of the leaders of the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. King, then serving as the minister at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, rose to national prominence in 1955 as the spokesman of the Montgomery bus boycott that began after the arrest of Rosa Parks. King's role in the boycott allowed him to meet President Eisenhower.

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Full Answer

In 1957, King helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, commonly referred to as the SCLC. The SCLC was an organization that in large part led the Civil Rights Movement, and King served as president from its inception until 1968 when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.

As president of the SCLC, King led many marches and protests against segregation across the South. In 1963, King led a campaign against the city of Birmingham, Alabama. The brutality of the police against King and the others who joined him in protest was broadcast nationwide and helped to push the rest of the nation to favor enacting civil rights legislation. While he was leading the charge in Birmingham, the city's police arrested and jailed King. During his time in jail, King wrote his famed "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," detailing his philosophy.

Also in 1963, King helped to organize and lead the March for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C. It was at this march that King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. For his efforts, "Time Magazine" named King the "Person of the Year." He also received the Nobel Peace Prize.

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