Martin Luther King, Jr. fought for civil rights because he envisioned a world where black citizens and white citizens were treated equally. He realized that even victories such as Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated schools, were not doing much to eliminate racism in the country.
Shortly after Reverend King moved to Montgomery, Ala., Rosa Parks made her famous stand and refused to move from her seat on a city bus. This caused a boycott of the city's bus system, and King was chosen to be the leader. The boycott lasted more than a year, and eventually bus segregation was ruled unconstitutional.
This victory propelled him to join with other civil rights activists and form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. As president of the Conference, he promoted civil disobedience such as sit-ins and marches. The movement gained momentum, and on August 28, 1963, King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington. The following year, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.
Despite all of King's victories, he gained many enemies who were opposed to his vision. On April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray fatally shot him while at a hotel in Memphis. In 1983, Congress declared every third Monday in January to be Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.Learn More
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