Martin Lurther King Jr.

  Martin Lurther King, Jr. is well known for his work in civil rights and of his famous speeches, among them his moving "I Have A Dream" speach. M. L., as he was called, was born in 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. M. L.'s grandfather, the Reverend A. D. Williams, an eloquent speeker, played an important role in the community since so many people's lives centered around the church. He allowed his church and his home to be used as a meeting place for a number of organizations dedicated to the education and social advancement of blacks. M. L. grew up in this atmosphere with his home being used as a community gathering place, and was no doubt influenced by it.

  M. L.'s childhood was not espcially eventful. His father was a minister and his mother was a musician.  He was the second of three children, and he attended all-black school in a black neighborhood. The neighborhood was not poor, however. Auburn Avenue was the main artery through a prosperous neighborhood that had come to symbolize achievement for Atlanta's black people. It was an area of banks, insurance companies, builders, jewelers, tailors, doctors, lawyers, and other black-owned or black-operated businesses and services. Even in the face of Atlanta's segregation the district thrived. Dr. King never forgot the community spirit he had known as a child, nor did he forget the racial prejudice that was a seemingly insurmountable barrier that kept black Atlantans from mingling with whites.

  In 1955, Martin Lurther King Jr. gained national recognition for his non-violent methods used in a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. This peaceful boycott, under Dr. King's guidance, changed the law which required black people to ride in the back of buses. After this success, Dr. King used his nonviolent tactics in efforts to change other discriminatory laws.

  Dr. King urged Blacks to use nonviolents sit-ins, marches, demonstrations, and freedom rides in their efforts to gain full freedom and equality. Arrested for breaking discriminatory laws, Dr. King went to jail dozens of times, he became a symbol around the world for people to protest peacefully against unjust laws. In recognition of his work for peaceful changes, Dr. King received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, but his leadership was challenged as civil rights activists became more militant. In the late 1960s he intensified his opposition to the war in Vietnam and to economic discrimination. While planning a multiracial Poor People's March for anti-poverty legislation, he was shot and killed in Memphis,