Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King!

On January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of a Baptist minister. King is one of the most famous advocates for black equal rights, in 1955 he helped organize the first major protest of the African-American civil rights movement: the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Inspired by Gandhi and Jesus's teachings of 'love thy neighbour' he preached non violent resistance to segregation in the South, and to fight violence with peace. He led many peaceful protests, marches and rallies throughout the South, which were often met with violence, however King and his followers refused to fight back.

In 1963 King led a massive March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where he made his famous 'I Have a Dream' address. Over two hundred and fifty thousand people gathered outside the Lincoln Memorial to hear the great speech, over a half of which were white. In 1964 the 24th Amendment was changed, abolishing the poll tax, and a Civil Rights Act was passed which prohibited racial discrimination in employment, education and public facilities. Later that year, King became the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Price. In the late 1960s, King was among those who criticised the USA's involvement in Vietnam, and fought for economic rights for poor Americans. In 1968, on April 4, King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.