A hero is born
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1929. At the time in that part of the country, segregation—or the separation of races in places like schools, buses, and restaurants—was the law. He experienced racial predjudice from the time he was very young, which inspired him to dedicate his life to achieving equality and justice for Americans of all colors. King believed that peaceful refusal to obey unjust law was the best way to bring about social change.
King and his wife, Coretta Scott King, lead demonstrators on the fourth day of a historic five-day march in 1965. Starting in Selma, Alabama, where local African Americans had been campaigning for the right to vote, King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators 54 miles to the state capitol of Montgomery.
King was arrested several times during his lifetime. In 1960, he joined Black college students in a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter. Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy interceded to have King released from jail, an action that is credited with helping Kennedy win the presidency.
King inspires a large crowd with one of his many speeches. Raised in a family of preachers, he's considered one of the greatest speakers in U.S. history.
President Lyndon B. Johnson shakes King's hand at the signing of the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed racial segregation in publicly owned facilities.
King his wife, Coretta Scott King, sit with three of their four children in their Atlanta, Georgia, home in 1963. His wife shared the same commitment to ending the racist system they had both grown up under.
A win for peace
King receives the Nobel Prize for Peace from Gunnar Jahn, president of the Nobel Prize Committee, in Oslo, Norway, on December 10, 1964.
Remembering a hero
A crowd of mourners follows the casket of King through the streets of Atlanta, Georgia, after his assassination in April 4, 1968. King was shot by James Earl Ray on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. Americans honor the civil rights activist on the third Monday of January each year, Martin Luther King Day.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY: COURTESY THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS; BEN MARTIN, TIME LIFE PICTURES / GETTY IMAGES; HORACE CORT; JULIAN WASSER, TIME LIFE PICTURES / GETTY IMAGES; AFP, GETTY IMAGES; HULTON ARCHIVE / GETTY IMAGES; COURTESY ASSOCIATED PRESS; COURTESY KEYSTONE / GETTY IMAGES; COURTESY HULTON ARCHIVE / GETTY IMAGES