In honor of Black History Month, all month long we will be sharing the legacies and stories of the heroes, sheroes, and events in the fight for Black suffrage on social media under the hashtag #VRABlackHistory. Follow us on Twitter (@VRAmatters) to share your own facts.
Today we honor Martin Luther King Jr., who "was a Baptist minister and social activist who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. Inspired by advocates of nonviolence such as Mahatma Gandhi, King sought equality for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and victims of injustice through peaceful protest." Arrested for his involvement in the Birmingham campaign of 1963 (in which activists used a boycott, sit-ins and marches to protest segregation, unfair hiring practices and other injustices), on April 12th, King penned the civil rights manifesto known as the "Letter from Birmingham Jail", an eloquent defense of civil disobedience addressed to a group of white clergymen who had criticized his tactics. King was the driving force behind watershed events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the March on Washington, and the Selma-to-Montgomery marches which helped bring about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. "King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a U.S. federal holiday since 1986.”