Born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. grew up in a time when people of different races were separated in much of the United States. This separation was called “segregation.”

In segregated states, African-Americans were not allowed to use the same drinking fountains as white people. They could go to movies, but they were forced to use a different door and were only allowed to sit in the balcony area. If they wanted to ride a public bus, they had to sit in the back.

Until 1957, even public schools remained segregated. Dr. King attended segregated public elementary and high schools. He graduated from Morehouse College, an all-black college in Atlanta, in 1948.

Dr. King’s father and grandfather were both preachers, and he knew that he wanted to follow in their footsteps. He attended Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he received his doctorate in 1955.

After graduating, he began leading a church and married a woman named Coretta Scott. Martin and Coretta moved to the South, where prejudice was very strong in the most segregated states in the United States.

In 1955, police arrested an African-American woman named Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger. Dr. King was outraged by Rosa’s arrest, so he organized a boycott of the public bus system in Montgomery, Alabama. The next year, the U.S. Supreme Court banned segregation on public buses.

For more than 10 years, Dr. King campaigned against segregation, prejudice and racial inequality. Over his lifetime, he gave more than 2,500 speeches, gaining followers and supporters around the country and the world.

He became a leader in the civil rights movement. And in 1964, Dr. King also won the Nobel Peace Prize.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was shot and killed by an assassin while standing on the balcony outside his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee.

 

30 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (46 votes, avg. 3.67 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
  1. Thanks, I watched the video. It told me so much about him and I know that he knew what he was talking about. Because of him, now we have laws that will help all of us. He changed the word fair. He changed it to no violence and always say what is in your mind.
    Someday everybody will appreciate all of the work he did.

    • What a really awesome comment, Yamel! We think it’s great that you shared what you learned by visiting this Wonder about Dr. King. We also hope that someday everyone WILL appreciate all of the work he did! :-)

  2. It is quite sad to know that this really did happen. Though imagine if Dr. King was never born, the world would be so much more different.

    • We are glad you’ve been WONDERing about Dr. King with us, Nicole. He was an incredible leader and activist. You make a great point, Nicole– the world would be a different place if it weren’t for him. Thanks so very much for WONDERing with us! :)

    • Hi there, Jackson! Thanks for WONDERing about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with us! Dr. King and his wife, Correta Scott King, had four children. All four children followed in the footsteps of their parents– they were civil rights activists, too! :)

    • Hi there, Annabelle! We’re glad you have been WONDERing about the life and history of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We do know that James Earl Ray assassinated Dr. King in Memphis, TN while he was speaking to a crowd. We Wonder what you learned about Dr. King and his activism? :)

    • Hi there, Sammy. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. died on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN. We Wonder what you learned about Dr. King’s life and legacy? :)

    • Hi there, Gaby1234! We agree, Dr. King was an amazing activist and leader– we are glad you’re WONDERing about his legacy! Dr. King was assassinated by a man named James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968. Thank you for sharing your comment! :)

  3. Thank you for the wonderful wonder.

    We have 2 questions…

    1. Why did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give so many speeches?

    2. What was the name of the assassin who shot Dr. King and why did he shoot him?

    • Hi there, Mrs. Piccioni’s Second Grade Class! Thanks for WONDERing with us today! Martin Luther King Jr. is known for his compelling speeches– they helped him convey his passion for Civil Rights. He was a leader and activist, and unfortunately there were people who were not in favor of Dr. King put an end to his life. James Earl Ray shot Dr. King while we was giving a speech on April 4, 1968.

      Thanks for WONDERing about Dr. King and his mission! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Marc! Check out an excerpt from this Wonder… your answer is below!

      “In 1955, police arrested an African-American woman named Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger. Dr. King was outraged by Rosa’s arrest, so he organized a boycott of the public bus system in Montgomery, Alabama. The next year, the U.S. Supreme Court banned segregation on public buses.

      For more than 10 years, Dr. King campaigned against segregation, prejudice and racial inequality. Over his lifetime, he gave more than 2,500 speeches, gaining followers and supporters around the country and the world.

      He became a leader in the civil rights movement. And in 1964, Dr. King also won the Nobel Peace Prize.” :)

      On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was shot and killed by an assassin while standing on the balcony outside his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee.

    • Super question, Max! While there is no record of how many folks attended that powerful speech, historians estimate that approximately 200,000 people joined together to listen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. What a cool thing to Wonder about! :)

    • We are so glad that you enjoyed this passage and video, Liberty! We’re unsure about what that man was thinking, but we think everyone should remember the Golden Rule. Thanks for WONDERing with us, Liberty! :-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Share

  • Wonderopolis on Facebook
  • Wonderopolis on Pinterest
  • Print

Have you ever wondered…

  • Who was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?
  • What is segregation?
  • What was the civil rights movement?

Wonder Gallery

Wonder #106- MLK Jr Static Image2Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Of all of Dr. King’s speeches, one of the most famous was delivered to a quarter of a million people in 1963 on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

In one of the most famous lines, Dr. King said, “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.”

What dreams do you have for the future? Think about the modern world. What problems or issues exist today? How do you think these problems can be solved?

Write about your dream for the future and how you can improve the world during your lifetime. If you need help getting started, take a look at some students’ “I Have a Dream” poems for inspiration.

When you’re finished, email or send a copy of your thoughts to Wonderopolis. We’d love to hear about your dreams for a better future!

Wonderopolis HQ
325 West Main Street, Suite 300
Louisville, KY 40202-4237

 

Still Wondering

After thinking about the future and how you can make it better, take a trip to Science NetLinks to learn more about Groups We Belong To. Did you realize that you’re born into certain groups but can voluntarily join others?

 

Wonder Categories/Tags

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow Wonderopolis is going with the grain. Bring your bowl and meet us back here for breakfast. This is one meal you won’t want to miss.

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.