Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his assassination in 1968. He is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience.
King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC, he led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia and helped organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He also helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War. J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO from 1963 and on.
In 1968, as he was planning to take the Poor People’s Campaign to Washington D.C., he was assassinated MLK, Martin Luther King Jr on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many US cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting. Sentenced to 99 years in prison for King’s murder, Ray served 29 years of his sentence and died from hepatitis in 1998 while in prison.