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Civil Rights Activist Martin Luther King Jr Born In Atlanta

Today on January 15, 1929, activist and revered national hero, Martin Luther King Jr, was born.

Martin Luther King Jr was born in Atlanta, Georgia to a local pastor and former school teacher. Along with his older sister and young brother, he grew up in the city’s Sweet Auburn district. At the time, the neighborhood was home to some of the most prominent and wealthy African Americans. Originally named Michael, he and his father both changed their names to Martin. Following a trip to Germany, King Sr became inspired by the protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther. King Jr's career began as a local Baptist minister before turning civil rights activist in the 1950s. With strong leadership and oratory skills, he quickly established a large and loyal following.

Martin Luther King Jr King rose to national prominence after becoming the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In that role, he proved instrumental for promoting non-violent tactics as witnessed during the massive march on Washington, DC. On August 28, 1963, King delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The following year, he received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. He also had a substantial impact on the creation of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

King’s inspirational speeches played a critical role in ending the legal segregation of African-Americans across the United States. During his later years, he expanded his focus to supporting poverty as well as ending the Vietnam War. On the evening of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated while standing on a motel balcony in Memphis. He had traveled to the city to support a local strike for black public works employees. The revered national activist passed away at the young age of 39. Riots erupted across major cities following his death. President Johnson declared a national day of mourning. Today, King is remembered as one of the country’s most influential African-American leaders. His birthday has since become a federal holiday on the 3rd Monday of January.

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."


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