The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


On April 4, 1968, a single bullet fired in Memphis, Tennessee, changed the world. An assassin fatally shot Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He would be 90 this year if he lived.

The civil rights leader carried the banner for the causes of social justice — organizing protests, leading marches and making powerful speeches exposing the scourges of segregation, poverty and racism. The legacy he left behind is long and storied.

Half a century after King's assassination, we take a look at historical photographs highlighting the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

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Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

Dr. King seen at home with his wife Coretta and daughter Yolanda May 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama.

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American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaks on the telephone after encountering a white mob protesting against the Freedom Riders in Montgomery, Alabama, May 26, 1961.

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Getty Images

Children are attacked by dogs and water cannons during a protest against segregation organized by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth in May 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Getty Images

Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King lead a black voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery.

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Getty Images

Dr. King appears on the television news program "Face The Nation,'" April 16, 1967.

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Denver Post/Getty Images

A young boy listens during a speech by Dr. King near the Mont­gomery, Alabama, State Capitol steps.

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Getty Images

Dr. King at the Soviet Sector border of the Berlin Wall in Bernauer Strasse, Berlin, Germany, Sept.12, 1964. Werner Steltzer, director of the Berlin Information Center is indicating points of interest.

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Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

An unspecified photo of Dr. King.

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Getty Images

Crowds march down the street to attend a speech by Dr. King in Chicago, Illinois, on the same day James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, three civil rights workers, were killed in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

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AFP/Getty Images

On Aug. 28, 1963, Dr. King waves to supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington where he delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

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The Washington Post/via Getty Images

Dr. King speaks at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church February 1968 in Washington, D.C.

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Getty Images

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with civil rights leaders in the White House, including Dr. King (left) in this undated photo.

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Getty Images

Civil rights leaders, including Dr. King, A. Phillip Randolph and Walther Reuther, hold hands as they lead a crowd of hundreds of thousands at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Washington, D.C., Aug. 28, 1963.

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Getty Images

Dr. King and Malcolm X wait for a press conference on March 26, 1964.

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Dr. King preaching at St. Paul's Cathedral in London, England, on Dec. 6, 1964.

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Dr. King lying in state in Memphis, Tennessee, as his colleagues pay their respects to him. From right: Andrew Young, Bernard Lee and Reverend Ralph Abernathy.

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Getty Images

A large crowd of mourners follow the casket of Dr. King through the streets of Atlanta, Georgia. Two men carry a large sign with King's face.

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Getty Images

Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. King, and her daughter, Yolanda, sit in a car as it leaves for Dr. King's funeral in Atlanta, Georgia.