Martin Luther King, Jr.: Biography, Speeches & Quotes

Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor, humanitarian and leader in the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. In numerous speeches, marches and letters, he fought for racial and economic justice and was lauded for his nonviolent approach to civil disobedience. Assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39, King made an incredible impact on the country’s racial, cultural and intellectual landscape.

Early life

King was born on Jan. 15, 1929, to the Rev. Michael King and Alberta Williams King in Atlanta, Georgia. His birth name was Michael King Jr. The King family had deep roots in the Atlanta Black community and the African-American Baptist Church. Both his grandfather and father served in succession at Ebenezer Baptist Church (down the street from King’s childhood home), and established it as a major congregation in Baptist circles. They were also both leaders in the Atlanta branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Michael King Sr. changed his name and his son’s name to Martin Luther in 1934 to honor the 16th-century German religious reformer.

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