Martin Luther King, Jr. shakes his fist during a speech in Selma, Alabama

(VOA News) Americans across the country are pausing Monday to observe the federal holiday marking the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

King first rose to prominence in 1955 when he led a successful boycott of the public buses in the southern city of Montgomery, Alabama, forcing the city to end its practice of segregating black passengers.

He became the central figure of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ’60s, inspiring millions with his famous “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington.

Nobel Peace Prize winner

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, the same year a landmark civil rights bill was signed by President Lyndon Johnson.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had traveled to assist striking black garbage workers who were seeking equal pay. READ MORE OF THIS STORY

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