MLK was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. His mother and father called him Michael after his father, but when he was five his father changed his name and Martin’s name to “Martin Luther King” to honor the great German Reformer from the sixteenth century. Martin Luther fought to make the world better, and MLK did too.
When MLK grew up, he became a Baptist minister like his father and grandfather. He also began to work to change things so that African Americans would be treated the same as everyone else.
Working for change is never easy. It takes courage and faith. Many people were mean to MLK and his family. Someone tried to blow up their house. Many tried to scare them with their words, but also with knives and guns. Many black people wanted to fight back, but MLK never gave in. He said, “Peaceful actions will bring peaceful solutions.” Even so he was arrested and placed in jail twenty-nine times for trying to change things by protesting against unjust laws.
In 1963 a huge crowd of people came to Washington, DC, to march for jobs and freedom. That’s when MLK made his most famous speech. He said, “I have dream” to call people to be thankful to God and to work to make the dream for freedom to come true for everyone. MLK said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not to be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” This was also the year that he won the Nobel Peace Prize at age thirty-four. The next year, the Civil Rights Act made much of his dream into law.
MLK kept on. He traveled the country working for change until one day in 1968 he was killed. He was in Memphis, Tennessee, working to organize another peaceful march. He was buried in Atlanta, where he was born.
We remember MLK because of his dream that African Americans will be treated the same as everyone else and because he courageously traveled everywhere to make kindness come true through peaceful protest.