Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King was a great American who worked for civil rights in the United States in the 1950s and 60s. He fought for the rights of African Americans and many people, blacks as well as whites, supported him. In 1964 he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
King was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. He had a brother, Alfred and a sister, Christine. Both his father and grandfather were ministers. His mother was a school teacher who taught him to read even before he started school.
Martin was a very good student. He even skipped two grades. He had many hobbies like reading and singing and like every boy of his age he got interested in basketball and football. After he graduated from college Martin Luther King got married and decided to become a minister, like his father.
Martin Luther King saw how badly black people were treated and during the 1950s he became involved in the Civil Rights movement. In 1955 a black woman, Rosa Parks, was arrested because she didn’t give up her seat to a white person on a bus. This incident made many blacks angry .They protested and decided to boycott the city’s buses. Martin Luther King became the president of this boycott.
White terrorists started to bomb King’s home and wanted to force him to give up his fight for equal rights. But King wasn’t afraid. He continued working for the black people in America. At that time, blacks and whites were separated in schools, restaurants, sport and in other fields.
In the 1960s King and his organisation started more and more protest marches and demonstrations. He met with the American President John F. Kennedy who shared his opinion on equal rights.
In 1963 Martin Luther King organized a big protest march in Washington D.C. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, black and white, took part. At the Lincoln Memorial King held his most famous speech : “I have a dream”!
The march was a big success. After Kennedy was killed in November 1963, the next American government passed a law that gave blacks the same rights as white people. It is called the Civil Rights Act. The new law gave blacks the same opportunities in education and work. It also gave them the right to vote.
In his later life, Martin Luther King found out that not all blacks wanted to fight for equal rights the way he did. Some groups became aggressive and used violence. They used the slogan “Black Power”.
King also fought against poverty. He said that there were too many rich people in America and that the poor people should be given more money by the government.
Martin Luther King’s life came to a sudden end. On April 4, 1968 he was killed by a white racist, James Earl Ray. People all over the world mourned King’s death. He was buried in Atlanta, Georgia. After his death many people were shocked and blacks started riots in many American cities.
Today, Martin Luther King is an American hero. Because he was the most famous African American in the history of the USA, Americans celebrate him each year in January, the month in which he was born.
From Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" - Speech
Downloadable PDF Text- and Worksheets
- boycott = if you do not do something that you normally do = an act of protest
- bury = to put somebody who has died in a grave
- celebrate =here: remember, honour
- character = all the qualities that a person has
- civil rights = the rights that every person should have
- Civil Rights Act = an American law that says every person should be treated equally, whatever their colour or religion
- content =subject; what is in something
- equal = the same
- faith = something that you believe in
- force = to make somebody do something
- former = earlier
- grade = school year
- graduate = to finish your school
- incident = an important or unusual event
- involved = to be a part of something
- is to be = wants to be
- jail = prison
- judge =give your opinion
- law =a set of rules in a country
- mighty = great, powerful
- minister = a priest in a church
- molehill =a small pile of earth made by an animal that lives in the ground
- mourn = to feel sad after a person has died
- movement =a group of people who have the same beliefs and work together
- Nobel Peace Prize = a prize that is given to a person who has worked a lot for peace
- opinion = what you think about a subject
- opportunity = chance
- owner = a person who something belongs to
- poverty = if a person is poor
- racist = a person who believes that their own skin colour is better than others
- receive = get
- rights =something that you are officially allowed to do
- riot = people who protest against something by fighting
- separate = divide
- share =here: to have the same...
- skip =to leave out
- snow-capped = the top of the mountain is covered with snow
- struggle = fight
- success =when you get or can do what you want
- sudden = quick, not expected
- support = to be for somebody, to help somebody
- treat =act towards someone, think of someone
- vote =choose someone in an election