On January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was initially named Michael, after his father. Five years later, the elder King, a Baptist minister, attended an international conference in Germany. After his trip, King Sr. changed his own name and his first son’s name to honor the Protestant reformer, Martin Luther.
As a young pastor, King Jr. helped lead a successful boycott of the segregated bus system in Montgomery, Alabama. He then co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which organized to desegregate cities across the South. Through nonviolent action campaigns and his stirring oratory, King became one of the best-known leaders of the civil rights movement in the U.S.
King also advocated on behalf of other oppressed groups, such as Black South Africans living under apartheid. After receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, King said, “The great masses of people are determined to end the exploitation of their races and land.”