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Martin Luther King Jr.

1929-1968. American civil rights leader. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, and educated at Morehouse College, Crozer Theological Seminary, and Boston University (Ph.D., 1955), he became pastor of Drexler Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery, Alabama (1954), and co-pastor with his father of Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta (1959). He rose to national prominence as leader of the movement to secure equal rights for Negroes through nonviolent, mass demonstrations, beginning with the Montgomery bus boycott (1956). He organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,* was the leading figure in the March on Washington (1963) that led to the 1964-65 Civil Rights Acts, and was active in voter registration drives. He received the Nobel Peace Prize (1964). King urged settlement of the Vietnam conflict and admission of Communist China to the U.N. Strongly criticized by segregationists and militant blacks, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, by a white man. He wrote Stride Toward Freedom (1958), Strength to Love (1963), Why We Can't Wait (1964), and Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967).