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On this day:

Martin Luther King, Jr., born

Martin Luther King, Jr., the son of a Baptist minister, is born in Atlanta, Georgia. He studied theology and in 1955 organized the first major protest of the African-American civil rights movement: the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Influenced by Mohandas Gandhi, he advocated nonviolent civil disobedience to racial segregation in the United States. The peaceful protests he led throughout the American South were often met with violence, but King and his followers persisted and the movement gained momentum. A powerful orator, he appealed to Christian and American ideals, and increasingly won support from the federal government and northern whites. In 1963, he led his massive March on Washington, which attracted some 200,000 demonstrators, and in 1964 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In the late 1960s, King openly criticized U.S. involvement in Vietnam and turned his efforts to winning economic rights for poor Americans. By that time, the civil rights movement had begun to fracture, with activists such as Stokely Carmichael rejecting King's vision of non-violent integration in favor of African-American self-reliance and self-defense. In 1968, King intended to revive his movement through an interracial Poor People's March on Washington, but on April 4 he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, just a few weeks before the demonstration was scheduled to begin.