Black and white photograph of a man's head with an outer white edge with red text
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Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American born minister who was best known as the leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement during the 1950's and 60's. King used nonviolent based methods, stemming from his background in the Baptist church, to lead a movement towards racial equality throughout the Southern states and then throughout the entire United States. His first famous protest was the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott, which started when Rosa Parks refused to give her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white woman and ended with the desegregation of Montgomery busses. Martin Luther King Jr. rose to prominence as an important leader of the boycott and, in 1958 he published a book, Strides Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story about his experience with the protest. He included accusations from his opponents that there were no problems in Montgomery until he and his movement caused them. The quote "True peace is not the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice" comes from his response to these accusations.
This button is used to commemorate Martin Luther King's birthday on January 15, the 1963 March on Washington on August 28, or the Riverside Church speech (against the Vietnam War) on April 4, 1967, a year before Martin Luther King's death.
Sources: King, M. L. Jr. (1958) Strides Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.