Martin Luther King Jr. (1929–1968) was an American Christian minister and civil rights activist who led one of the greatest nonviolent movements in world history to attain legal equality for African Americans in the United States. Drawing on both his Christian faith and the nonviolent philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King is widely regarded as a preeminent spokesperson for nonviolent activism. His “I Have a Dream” speech is among the most recognized and revered orations in the English language.
“His life informed us, his dreams sustain us yet.”* On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial looking out over thousands of troubled Americans who had gathered in the name of civil rights and uttered his now famous words, “I have a dream . . .
To most Americans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. represent contrasting ideals: self-defense vs. nonviolence, black power vs. civil rights, the sword vs. the shield. The struggle for black freedom is wrought with the same contrasts.