The most important civil rights campaigner in American history, Martin Luther King Jr. was born in January 1929, the son of a Baptist minister. He was a child protégé at school, skipping two grades and entering Morehouse College without ever formally graduating from high school. He completed his Ph.D. at Boston University before becoming a pastor. His studies pulled him toward the philosophy of nonviolent struggle and inspired him with the Gandhian dictum, "Through our pain we will make them see their injustice." King's political campaigning took full force with the Rosa Parks bus incident in 1955, which led to a nonviolent boycott of the buses in Montgomery, Ala. The campaign succeeded in ending forced segregation on buses, but there was still a long struggle ahead. Throughout his tireless campaigning for racial equality, King was arrested about 30 times. He penned his famous "Letter from Birmingham Jail" in 1963 after being imprisoned for his role in a direct action there. The text's most famous line "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" echoed the world-changing moral righteousness of his cause. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
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