From 1957 to 1968 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. traveled more than six million miles, and gave an estimated 2,500 speeches. King used the words of God and preached equality, hope, and forgiveness, “Love our neighbors as ourselves.” He inspired the oppressed to unite for change.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom ended on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, where 250,000 people gathered. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream“ speech where he demanded that America make good on it’s promise of freedom and security of justice. He spoke of the future: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Today his language of love, nonviolent direct action and redemptive suffering, resonates globally in the millions who stand up for freedom and elevate democracy to its ideals.
Background re: MLK, Jr.
The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist minister, and the most recognized leader of the American Civil Rights Movement until his assassination on April 4, 1968. Throughout his adult life he championed non violent resistance and civil disobedience as means of protest toward Civil Rights abuses, primarily toward African American Citizens. His influence using these techniques carried over to poverty, segregated housing, and Vietnam war issues, and resulted in him being arrested multiple times. He was the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, (SCLC) organizing it, unsuccessfully, in a struggle against segregation in 1962 in Albany, GA. He helped organize the nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.
On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. He alienated many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled "Beyond Vietnam". J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI's COINTELPRO from 1963 on. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties, and reported on them to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.
King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington was rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.