Martin Luther King, Jr.

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One of the greatest civil rights activists
One of the greatest civil rights activists

“I have a dream” - mixed song

Full Name: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nationallity: American
Birth: January 15th 1929 - Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Death: April 4th 1968 - Memphis, Tennessee, USA.
Parents: Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King
Siblings: Older sister Willie Christine and younger brother Alfred Daniel
Marital Status: Coretta Scott King
Childrens: Yolanda Denise, Martin Luther III, Dexter Scott and Bernice Albertine King.
Type of hero: Non-fictional hero
Characteristics: Pacifistic, religious, just, intelligent
Aim(s): Black people in USA getting their civil rights


Martin Luther King, Jr. was a civil right activist.
He came from a black middelclasshome, that was baptist, where the father was a reverend. Martin Luther King, Jr. also became a preast at 24 years old, and was also graduated in sociology in 1948, in theology in 1951 and became Doctor of Philosophy in 1955.
The first time he had the attention of the medias was in 1955, where he was leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and afterwards he participated to found Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

The Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955

After Rosa Parks refused to get forced to sit in the back end of the bus, “the blacks end”, in Montgomery, Alabama, she got arrested for offending the racial segregation policy. That started a very big Boycott lead by Martin Luther King Jr. against the Montgomery Bus policy. That was the first successful nonviolent protest they just have started. It wasn’t a totally peaceful protest for Martin Luther King Jr., during the 381 days the boycott lasted, his house got bombed and he got arrested. But because of that 65% of the people that used the bus were black, the white people had to listen to the black and stop the racial segregation in the busses. It actually ended with that they stopped the racial segregation in all public transport.

Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)

The most important organisation in the American civil rights movement was SCLC, the leader of which was Martin Luther King Jr. They became the gathering point for the starting American civil rights movement. They along with a lot of other organisations made several peaceful protests against the racial segregation policy. Their most common protest method was the sit-down demonstrations. For example they would sit down in a café, in the area where only the white people could sit. Then they would sit there until they got what they wanted, but most of the time they got attacked by racists or got arrested by the police.

In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the leader of the March on Washington, where he said his famous speech: “I Have a Dream”
He really got his message out to the whole world with the speech and put the fight for civil rights in focus.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was not only the leader and the person who communicated with the rest of the world in the civil rights movement, but he did also define a lot of the principles and fundamental ideas in the actions that they carried through. Martin Luther King, Jr. was deeply religious and thoroughly influenced by the message: love your enemy. Ghandis non-violent ideology influenced him as well, so these two are important aspects in the ideology of the movement.
In 1964, King received as the youngest person up til now the Nobel Peace Prize, because of what he had done through non-violent methods against the discrimination in the USA.
When Martin Luther King Jr. was 39 years old, he was killed by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee the 4th of April 1968. After the killing a white man named James Earl Ray confessed being the murderer. He was sentenced to 99 years prison.

Becoming a hero - I have a dream

The March on Washington 1963 - "I have a dream"

When people hear the name Martin Luther King Jr., the sentence “I have a dream” pops up in almost every ones head.
“I have a dream” is the given name to the famous speech Martin Luther King Jr. gave August the 28th 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The speech was given to over 250.000 civil right supporters, during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 200.000 of the demonstrators were black people and the rest 50.000 were white. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the leaders of the march.
The speech consists of two main sections. In the first one Martin Luther King Jr. talks about all the injustice the Afro-Americans have been through, then he asks that all the promises about the freedom and equality between the black and the white people soon shall become true and he starts telling about his hopes and his dreams. In this part many of his sentences starts with:
  • “Now is the time…"
  • "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'"
  • "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."
  • "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will they be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood."
At the end of the speech, Martin Luther King Jr. started to improvise on the theme “I have a dream” and he departed from his prepared text, and just spoke from his heart. He ends the speech with that he wants every one to join him in singing the song:” Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
The speech "I have a dream" is considered one of the best speeches in the world ever given.

Word explanations:

  • civil rights: borgerrettigheder
  • movement: bevægelse
  • segregation: raceadskillelse
  • message: budskab
  • to be sentenced: at blive dømt