The Life of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. in 10 Locations

"The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one"

By Google Arts & Culture

One of the most influential figures in US history, Martin Luther King Jr. dedicated his life to campaigning against racial inequality and advancing civil and human rights. Scroll on, click, and drag, to explore the important locations of MLK's life in Street View.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1962) by Yousuf KarshSmithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Birth Home

Martin Luther King Jr. was born Michael King Jr. on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, the second of three children to the Reverend Michael King Sr. and Alberta King, themselves descendents of ministers and sharecroppers.

Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia

King Sr. was the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, and the King family worshipped here regularly. In 1934 King Sr. travelled to Germany on a church trip and witnessed the nascent Nazi government. The event had a profound impact on his own and King Jr.'s outlook.

Booker T. Washington High School, Atlanta

In 1942 King Jr. skipped the ninth grade and was enrolled in Booker T. Washington High School. The high school, formed by local black leaders including King's grandfather, was the only one in the city for African American students. There, he eagerly joined the debate team.

Morehouse College

King passed the entrance exam for Morehouse College, a respectable, historically-Black university, at the age of just 15. Just before his final year, he decided to enter the ministry. He graduated from Morehouse as a Bachelor of Arts in sociology in 1948.

March on Washington

In August 1963, King helped organise the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A nationwide alliance of civil rights, labour, and religious organizations numbering around 250,000 people marched from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial.

I have a dream…

From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. gave a prepared oratory. As he neared the end, Mahalia Jackson called from the crowd, "Tell them about the dream, Martin!", at which point he then gave his historic speech, I Have a Dream.

Departing from his prepared speech, King improvised an oratory around the word 'dream', uttering the now-famous words: "Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream."

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today."

Freedom March (1963-08) by Francis MillerLIFE Photo Collection

16th Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama

Early in 1963, the Birmingham campaign had been launched with the aim of non-violently desegregating one of the most segregated cities in the US. In September, the 16th Street Baptist Church, headquarters for the campaign, was bombed by white supremacists.

The explosion at the church killed four girls and injured between 14 and 22 other people. King Jr. called the act, "one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity". Yet no prosecutions were conducted until 1977.

Brown’s Chapel Church in Selma, Alabama

This church marked the starting point for the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965, which saw the police engage in ruthless attacks against the marchers. The violence of the authorities led to the first march becoming known simply as Bloody Sunday.

New York City Riverside Church

In 1967, exactly a year to the day before his death. King made a speech entitled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. His brave stand against American aggression in Vietnam marked a new focus of his campaigning, yet lost him many former allies, who felt it unpatriotic.

The Lorraine Motel, Memphis

On April 4 1968, King was staying in his usual room at The Lorraine Motel, Memphis. As he stood on the balcony talking to Reverand Jesse Jackson, he was shot by James Earl Ray. King was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, but never regained consciousness.

MLK Jr. National Historical Park

King's grave and monument are found opposite his childhood church, the Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. The site is now a National Historic Park dedicated to the life and work of King, and the wider Civil Rights movement.

The Second Seige Petersburg , Va. (1960-05) by Howard SochurekLIFE Photo Collection

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