USA: MLK, Jr.                                                                  

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929.  He was one of the most important leaders of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Civil rights refer to the rights of all citizens to freedom, liberty, and equality. The civil rights movement that King led focused on the rights of African Americans.

King was a Baptist minister like his father. His first job was in a church in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1954.  In Montgomery, as in many other places in the US at that time, public facilities were segregated. Blacks and whites had to use different waiting rooms in train stations, different toilets, and different water fountains. There were separate schools for black and white children. The facilities were supposed to be “separate but equal,” but they were not--the ones for blacks were usually inferior.

King led nonviolent protests. He organized many marches, in which thousands of people walked quietly and peacefully as a way to show the power of their numbers. He also encouraged sit-ins where blacks would simply sit down in a place that was known not to serve blacks.  Sometimes the protesters, including King, were arrested.

Martin Luther King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 at the age of 35. He was the youngest man ever to have received the prize.  King turned over his prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. On April 4, 1968, a day he was planning to lead a protest march in sympathy of striking garbage workers, he was assassinated.

Even today, the country still mourns the death of the man who changed US history forever. His achievements are celebrated on the third Monday in January.