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On January 15, 1929, Michael King, Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Five years later, King’s father, a Baptist minister, attended an international conference in Germany. After the conference, the elder King was inspired to change both his own and his son’s names to honor the German Protestant reformer Martin Luther. Martin Luther King, Jr., became one of the most important leaders of the civil rights movement in the United States.
 
King’s influence extended far beyond the United States, however. His use of non-violent action and civil disobedience earned the admiration and respect of the international community, culminating in the Nobel Peace Prize of 1964. 
 
“We are in an era in which the issue of human rights is the central question confronting all nations,” King said in a speech opposing the racist apartheid government of South Africa. This made the civil rights movement universal: “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed” and, “with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers in Asia, South America, and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice.”
admiration
Noun

feeling of respect and approval.

apartheid
Noun

(1948-1993) South African government's policy of separating different races of people.

Baptist
Noun

member of a Protestant denomination that emphasizes the importance of baptism as a testament to the Christian faith.

bigotry
Noun

prejudice or intolerance.

boycott
Verb

to stop using or buying a product, or to stop using or buying products at a specific location, usually to make a social or political statement.

civil disobedience
Noun

peaceful refusal to obey certain laws, used as a form of protest and in order to achieve political goals.

civil rights movement
Noun

(~1954-1968) process to establish equal rights for all people in the United States, focusing on the rights of African Americans.

conference
Noun

meeting for discussion.

culminate
Verb

to reach the highest point or most important part of something.

demonstration
Noun

organized public display of support or criticism for a policy or event.

economic
Adjective

having to do with money.

era
Noun

time period.

government
Noun

system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

human rights
Noun

basic freedoms belonging to every individual, including the rights to social and political expression, spirituality, and opportunity.

inequality
Noun

difference in size, amount, or quality between two or more things.

influence
Noun

force that effects the actions, behavior, or policies of others.

injustice
Noun

act or behavior that is unfair or discriminates against a group of people.

justice
Noun

administration of law.

March on Washington
Noun

(March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom) demonstration supporting economic and civil rights for all Americans, held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963, and concluding with Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

minister
Noun

pastor, or person authorized by a church to conduct worship.

Negro
noun, adjective

throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, a common word for people of African ancestry.

Nobel Peace Prize
Noun

award recognizing the contributions of a person or organization to "work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace."

oppress
Verb

to unjustly discriminate against, torment, or persecute.

Poor People's March
Noun

(1968) part of a campaign for civil and economic rights for poor people in the United States, including a "tent city" erected on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

protest
noun, verb

demonstration against a policy or action.

Protestant
Noun

Christian who is not a follower of Catholic or Orthodox faiths.

racism
Noun

governmental or social systems based on the belief that one race or ethnic group is superior to others.

racist
Adjective

community or government policy of denying certain rights to people based on their ancestry, usually signified by skin color.

reform
noun, verb

change or improvement of a policy or process.

Selma to Montgomery March
Noun

(March 21, 1965-March 25, 1965) protest to support voting rights for African Americans, taking the form of a 87-kilometer (54-mile) walk between the Alabama town of Selma and the capital, Montgomery.

sit-in
Noun

demonstration where protesters occupy a space and refuse to leave it.

urgent
Adjective

requiring immediate action.

violent
Noun

strong, destructive force.

voting rights
Noun

issues surrounding the legal right and ability to campaign and cast a vote in political elections.