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Michael (later changed to Martin) Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. Both his father and grandfather were members and leaders of the black church. The church was used as a tool to protest for the equal rights and justices of African Americans. (Salley, 1999) Therefore, Martin Luther King, Jr. was exposed at a very young age to the ideology of equality and respect to all human beings. Martin Luther King, Jr. later used his influence and leadership in the black church to establish a vision of “the brotherhood of man,” a movement for freedom and equality for blacks in America. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great orator and was able to manipulate the media in the favor of freedom for blacks. (Salley, 1999) He participated in numerous protest marches in defiance of racism and segregation by the police and firefighters and other municipal leaders. However, the most important event of Martin Luther King, Jr. influence on the civil right movement and afro americans came during a speech at the march on Washington on August 28, 1963.
During this march, more than 250 000 people, both whites and blacks, poor and rich, assembled (with millions watching on television) for the largest civil rights demonstration in the history of America. His epic speech still resonates today amongst all Americans. (Salley, 1999) Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream” speech pointed to his long lasting dream of eradicating racism and intolerance. Martin Luther King, Jr. struggles took him to various places. In March 1958, he arrived to Memphis Tennessee, to support striking sanitation workers. On April 4th, 1968, he was shot down by a white assassin, on the balcony at the Lorraine Motel. His last sermon, was played at his funerals. The sermon paid justice to the struggles of Americans and human kinds against injustice. “If any of you are around when I have to meet my death, I don’t want a long speech. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell him not to talk long. Every now and then I wonder what I want him to say. Tell him not to mention that I have the Nobel Peace Prize, that isn’t important. […] I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say on that day that I did try in my life to visit those who were imprisoned.” (Salley, 1999) Long after his death, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., remains a prominent figure in American history and an undisputed champion for the fight for equality for all Americans regardless of their colour, religion or beliefs. (Bobleter, Katie, 2001)
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