Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a minister, activist and likely the most prominent leader and voice of the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, until his assassination on April 4, 1968.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a national holiday observed on the third Monday in January each year to remember and celebrate Dr. King's accomplishments. This year, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day falls on Jan. 18.
To advance civil rights, Dr. King led non-violent demonstrations and marches for African Americans' rights to vote, labor rights and desegregation, while he promoted civil disobedience to achieve those goals.
Dr. King helped organize the March on Washington, where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, on the Lincoln Memorial steps in 1963.
Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his work combating racial inequality through non-violent means. In 1965, he helped organize two of three 54-mile protest marches from Selma to Montgomery, the Alabama state capital, to highlight racial injustice and advocate for African Americans to exercise their right to vote.
In his final years, Dr. King opposed poverty, capitalism and the Vietnam War.
On Nov. 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law to establish Martin Luther King, Jr Day. The holiday was first observed on Jan. 20, 1986.
Today, streets across the country bear his name, and a memorial to Dr. King stands on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.