American civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is best known for his role in the African-American civil rights movement and non-violent protests. Take a look back at the civil rights leader's defining places.
MLK wins an oratory contest on April 17, 1944 with a speech entitled “The Negro and The Constitution.” At age fifteen he graduates from Booker T. Washington High School and is admitted to Morehouse College (Atlanta) on September 20, 1944.
MLK is granted the doctorate of philosophy in systematic theology from Boston University on June 5, 1955. His dissertation topic: “A Comparison of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Wiseman.”
MLK and Coretta make a pilgrimage to India on February 2, 1959, and spend a month there as the guests of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to study Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence and to pay homage at his shrine.
On January 20, 1960, MLK moves to Atlanta and becomes co-pastor, with his father, at the Ebenezer Baptist Church. In Atlanta, on October 19, MLK is arrested during a sit-in while waiting to be served at a restaurant. He is sentenced to four months in jail, but after intervention by then presidential candidate John Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, MLK is released.
Sit-in demonstrations begin in February in Birmingham, Alabama. Police Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor arrests MLK and Ralph Abernathy for demonstrating without a permit. During the days he spends jailed, MLK writes his historic “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Protest leaders suspend mass demonstrations as negotiations begin on May 8. Two days later, the Birmingham agreement is announced.
The day after the settlement is reached, segregationists bomb the Gaston Motel where MLK was staying. On May 13, 1963, federal troops arrive in Birmingham. The Birmingham protests prove to be the turning point in the war to end legal segregation in the South.
Monument / Landmark in Washington, DC, United States
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 is the largest civil rights demonstration in history with nearly 250,000 marchers. MLK leads the march for Jobs and Freedom. The demonstrators demand an end to state-supported segregation and equal job opportunities. At the march, MLK makes his memorable “I Have a Dream” speech.