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Picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

American's foremost proponent of a nonviolent civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought a minister's zeal to social issues. The son of a minister and a graduate of Morehouse College in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, King attended both the Crozier Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and Boston University's School of Theology, where he received his Ph.D. in 1955.

Upon completion of his studies, King returned to the South and became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. There he gained international recognition for his role in the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955 to 1956). In 1959, King moved to Atlanta to lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1960 to his death in 1968, he was co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

King pressed for civil rights throughout the United States. Often he was arrested and jailed but the demonstrations he led and the power they displayed were vital to the enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Foremost among those events was the 1963 March on Washington during which King declared his dream of freedom before 250,000 at the Lincoln Memorial. Time Magazine responded by naming King Man of the Year. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while working to improve the wages of local sanitation workers.

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