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Video:Profile of Martin Luther King, Jr.

with Ben Arrona

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dedication to Civil Rights left an indelible impression on the landscape of history. Get an overview of the tireless and impassioned life of MLK in this history video from About.com.See Transcript

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Transcript:Profile of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hi, I'm Ben Arrona, here for About.com. I'm an historian with a Master's Degree in American History, and this is a profile of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Early Life

Born on January 15, 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the leader of America's Civil Rights Movement from the mid-1950s until his death in 1968. King's valuable strategic and spiritual leadership, plus his commitment to non-violent protest, galvanized the movement and brought the cause to the attention of a national audience.

As the son of a Baptist minister, King was brought up in a religious household. After graduating from Crozer Theological Seminary, King went on to earn a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Boston University. Once out of school, King became the minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. The following year, he was to rise as a leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycott, which lasted 382 days, culminated with the Supreme Court's ruling against racial segregation on public transportation.

King's Rise as a Leader in the Civil Rights Movement

Following the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, King helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization to help coordinate local non-violent protests for civil rights. King, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau, advocated for civil disobedience using peaceful protests, such as in the 1963 “sit-ins” in segregated restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama.

While King and his followers preached nonviolence, they were subjected to numerous acts of violent retaliation, including the bombing of King's home in 1956. While no one was injured during that particular explosion, King lived constantly with death threats. However, King's strong belief in the cause kept him moving forward.

King, who was known for being an eloquent and inspirational speaker, gave one of his most famous speeches on August 28, 1963. While standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech to 250,000 demonstrators during the March on Washington. In 1964, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Civil Rights Movement. That same year saw the passage of the Civil Rights Act, followed by the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

On April 3rd 1968, King arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, to prepare for a peaceful march in support of striking sanitation workers. That night he delivered his “I've Been to the Mountaintop” speech that touched on his own mortality. The next evening, on April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in front of his hotel room , on the second floor of the Lorraine Motel. He was 39 years old.

Two months after King's assassination, James Earl Ray was arrested and later convicted for the crime. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his life in pursuit of ideals that bettered our country. His tireless work on behalf of the Civil Rights Movement and commitment to non-violent protests have left an indelible impression on the landscape of American History.

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