Martin Luther King, born on January 15, 1929 was an activist and a prominent leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. He was a follower of the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and his activism was known for using non-violent methods. In the year 1964, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work aimed at ending racial discrimination and racial segregation, and in the process became the youngest person to win the coveted award. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the whole prize money to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. He was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times; he was awarded five honorary degrees; was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure. Throughout his life, King delivered many speeches and organised rallies and boycotts. Some of the most defining movements of his life are :
Montgomery Bus Boycott
This boycott was led by Martin Luther King to end the racial segregation that existed on the public transport system in Montgomery, USA. This boycott caused financial burdens for the city.s transport department as the blacks were the principal boycotters and they formed the majority of the system.s paying customers. Ultimately, justice was delivered with the District Court ruling that the method of racial segregation was unconstitutional.
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
It was a political rally that took place in Washington on August 28, 1963. Martin Luther King delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech advocating racial harmony at the Lincoln Memorial during the march. In his speech, King emphasized the need for all black people to be united in their pursuit to end racial discrimination. He envisaged a society that would be free of any racial profiling and instead wanted a society purely based on equality. His 17-minute speech was ranked the top American speech of the 20th century by a poll of scholars.
Opposition to the Vietnam War
He strongly opposed America.s war against Vietnam. According to him, the U.S. Government had become the .greatest purveyor of violence in the world today". He called for broader moral changes from the American society. He was also opposed to the war on the grounds that the money spent in funding the war could have been put to use for benefitting the poor people in the society.
Poor People's Campaign
Martin Luther King advocated the cause of the poor people by leading the campaign to address the issues of economic justice and housing for the poor in the United States. Jobs, wages and housing were the main goals of this campaign. The Poor People.s Campaign was the second phase of the civil rights movement after the racial segregation boycott.
He was assassinated on April 4, 1968 while staying in his hotel room. The assassination led to a nationwide wave of race riots in dozens of cities across the United States.
Martin Luther King is considered a human rights icon today. King's life and assassination have inspired many artistic works. In honor of his contribution to the cause of civil rights propagation, the United States Government has declared the third Monday of January a federal holiday every year. This day is popularly known as the .Human Rights Day