When Martin Luther King Jr. was 6 years old he was friends with a white boy, but they were separated by segregated schools and banned from playing together. MLK never forgot the feeling.
After growing up in racial segregation, MLK went on to fight for civil rights through non-violent protests and marches. While many called for violence in the face of injustice, MLK believed non-violence would be more effective.
"Non-violence does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent but to win friendship and understanding," MLK said.
The movement challenged white Americans to see African Americans as equals, and inspired people such as US President Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
"Their cause must be our cause too,” President Johnson announced. “Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome."
MLK was instrumental in advancing racial equality, not only inspiring peace and justice in the US, but goodwill around the globe. He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize.
While MLK was assassinated in 1968, his legacy continues and his call for national healing and unity continue to be as relevant as ever.
"And so, together we will work, until we make America one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
- Martin Luther King, Jr. (quoting the US Pledge of Allegiance)