Martin Luther King, Jr., a Leader of the Human Rights Movement

On January 15th, people in the United States celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was a great civil rights leader who fought against racial discrimination.  He said that people should be judged by their character, and not the color of their skin.  He believed in integration.  He received national attention when he protested the injustice of segregated buses in Alabama.

Martin Luther King is remembered in church memorial services, marches and public ceremonies.  People also listen to his speeches,  watch TV documentaries, and sing spirituals and the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome”.  In schools, students read about this leader study his writings and celebrate his memory with special programs.  Politicians and performers also participate in celebrations to honor Martin Luther King.  The third Monday in January is a legal holiday to honor Martin Luther King.


Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15th, 1929.  His father was a clergyman, Reverend Luther King, Sr.,  and his mother was Alberta Williams King. Martin Luther King, Jr., was an excellent student.  He entered college at the age of 15 years.  He was interested in history, literature, sociology and public speaking.  He studied black history, religion and theology.  He received his doctor of philosophy degree from Boston University. He became a minister and married Coretta Scott.  They had four children.  He was the pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.  Martin Luther King work to end segregation of black people.  He also became a leader of the human rights movement.


He believed in non-violent methods.  In 1963, he gave one of his most famous speeches, “I Have a Dream”, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington, D.C.  He said, ” I have a dream …  that one day little black boys and girls will join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.” He became famous and was loved and respected by many people all around the world.  He received the Nobel Peace Prize in1964.

Martin Luther King died at the age of 39 years.  He was killed by an assassin, James Earl Ray.  It was a sad day for the American people and the world. Life for African Americans is better today.  But there are still many problems.

Test tasks

Match words with similar meaning.

  1. memorial               a. religious song
  2. clergyman              b. killer
  3. segregate                c. unfairness
  4. rights                      d. bringing groups of people together, combining
  5. racial                       e. remembrance; something done to remember or honor a person
  6. injustice                  f. being unfair to the group of people because of their color, religion, etc.
  7. integration             g. separate
  8. assassin                  h. ethnic
  9. spiritual                   i. privileges

10.discrimination      j. pastor, minister

Underline the word that will best complete the sentence.

  1. Many people attend church (justice, memorial) services in honor of Martin Luther King.
  2. Martin Luther King worked to end (segregation, ethnic) of black people; he believed that all people are equal.
  3. He wanted people of all races to be (injustice, integrated).
  4. Martin Luther King worked to end (discrimination, rights) against black people.
  5. A person who kills is called an (assassin, assassination).
  6. The (memorial, spiritual) “We Shall Overcome” is recognized as the Civil Rights Anthem.
  7. The church memorial service in honor of Martin Luther King was conducted by a (spiritual, clergyman).
  8. All people should believe that (racial, spiritual) differences are not important, but that all human beings have the same (segregation, rights).
  9. People who fight for equality know that it is a(n) (segregation, injustice) to judge people by the color of their skin.

Insert words to complete the sentences.

  1. Martin Anderson sang _____________ and other songs in her concerts.
  2. It is an _____________ to be punished for a crime you did not commit.
  3. The _____________ married four couples in one afternoon.
  4. In the United States boys and girls are not _____________ in public schools; they all are in the same class.
  5. A large crowd attended the outdoor _____________ service to remember and honor the heroes.
  6. Men and women must have the same _____________ since the Constitution guarantees equality for all.
  7. Many different _____________groups can be found in New York City since people from all over the world come to live in the United States.
  8. It is against the law for employers to _____________ against employees because of their nationality.
  9. The police found the _____________ and he was brought to trial.

10.Public schools cannot separate boys and girls in different classes; they all have to be _____________.

Complete the sentences.

  1. The artist designed a monument to honor and remember the famous hero. He created a _____________.
  2. On Martin Luther King’s birthday people sing “We Shall Overcome”. They sing a _____________.
  3. “All men are created equal”. This is a statement of _____________ equality.
  4. All youngsters from the age of 5 to 21 can go to public school. It is their _____________.
  5. In the United States, students cannot be separated because of their race or religion. _____________ is illegal.

Underline the word that does not belong.

  1. clergyman    actor     minister     pastor
  2. inequality    democracy     injustice     discrimination
  3. separation    integration     combination     togetherness
  4. killer    criminal     fireman     assassin
  5. discrimination    unfairness     justice     inequality