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Martin Luther King Jr. was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights and his “I Have a Dream” speech.
See the fact file below for more information on the Martin Luther King Jr. or alternatively, you can download our 26-page Martin Luther King Jr. worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Biography Fact File
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Date of Birth
January 15, 1929
Date of Death
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee.
Place of Birth
Rev. Martin Luther Kings, Sr. and Alberta Williams King.
Yolanda, Martin Luther III, Dexter and Bernice Albertine.
King attended Booker T. Washington High School. He skipped ninth and twelfth grade,
and enter Morehouse College at age 15 without formally graduating from high school.
In 1948, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and enrolled in
Crozer Theological Seminary. He grated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951.
Reason for Fame
King was also an activist and prominent leader in the
African-American civil rights movement.
King won the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and in 1965 King was awarded the
American Liberties Medallion by the American Jewish Committee.
He was awarded at least fifty honorary degrees from colleges and universities
in the U.S. and elsewhere. In 1971, King was posthumously awarded the
Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for his
“Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam”. Six years later,
the Presidential Medal of Freedom was award to King by Jimmy Carter.
King and his wife were also awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004.
Key Facts & Information
- Born as Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was the middle child of Michael King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. He grew up in a loving and nurturing environment, but he could not be completely shielded from racism. His parents, especially his father, fought against racial prejudice and discouraged any sense of class superiority in his children. This left a mark on MLK Jr. as he grew up.
- MLK Jr. attended Booker T. Washington High School and skipped the 9th and 11th grades. He entered Morehouse College in Atlanta at age 15 and, in 1948, he earned a degree in sociology.
- He then attended the liberal Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania where he became the valedictorian of the class of 1951.
AS CIVIL RIGHTS LEADER
- The night that Rosa Parks was arrested, the local civil rights leaders, with King as the leader, met and planned a citywide bus boycott. In his speech he said:
”We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”
- This fueled the civil rights struggle in Alabama, but due to this bus boycott, which lasted 382 days, his home was attacked. The African-American community then took legal action against the city ordinance, arguing that it was unconstitutional based on the Supreme Court’s separate is never equal decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case. Eventually, the law mandating segregated public transportation was lifted.
- In January 1957, Martin Luther King Jr, Ralph Abernathy, and some other ministers and civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to organize the power of black churches. This led to mass meetings and discussions of race-related issues.
- In 1959, inspired by Gandhi’s success, MLK Jr. traveled to India and was further inspired to continue his commitment to America’s civil rights issues. He encouraged people, even the young, to use nonviolent methods and, by August 1960, the segregation at lunch counters in 27 southern cities was ended.
- By 1960, he gained national notoriety and returned to Atlanta to become a co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. His fight for civil rights resulted in him being imprisoned on multiple occasions, so much so that John F. Kennedy included his name in one of his speeches, as he showed concern with regard to MLK Jr.
- On August 28, 1963, the historic March for Peaceful Change drew more than 200,000 people’s attention. It was at this gathering when MLK Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech was said.
- MLK Jr. continued his efforts throughout the 1960s and from 1965 to 1967 he expanded his civil rights efforts to other larger American cities.
- However, he encountered even greater challenges. He linked other forms of oppression such as poverty and began to speak out against the Vietnam War. He broadened his base by forming a multiracial coalition to address the economic and unemployment problems of disadvantaged people.
- Protests and jail simultaneously plagued his later years. In the spring of 1968, he had his last crusade. He gave his final and oddly prophetic speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” in which he told supporters at the Mason Temple in Memphis:
”I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”
- The next day, while standing on a balcony outside Lorraine Motel, MLK Jr. was struck by a sniper’s bullet. The assassin was James Earl Ray, who was later sentenced to 99 years in prison.
- His life and death had a seismic impact on race relations in the US. Years after his death, he is still the most widely known African-American leader of his era.
PUBLIC LIFE IN PICTURES
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s life was highly publicized by the media. We can see a lot of press coverage about him and his family.
Martin Luther King Jr. Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Martin Luther King Jr. across 26 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Martin Luther King Jr. worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Martin Luther King Jr. who was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights and his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Martin Luther kIng, Jr. Facts
- MLK Cards
- A Walk to Remember
- I Have A Dream
- I Also Have a Dream
- Remembering MLK Jr.
- A World Peace
- What’s in a Name?
- A Quotation on Education
- In Newsprint
- Editorial Cartooning
- Civil Rights 101
- Truth or Lie
- Luther’s Freedom
- Along with MLK
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