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PICS: Defining moments of Martin Luther King Jr's life

The Nobel Peace Prize winner died in 1968.

MLK AND FAMILY ATLANTA Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, sit with three of their four children in their Atlanta, Ga, home, on March 17, 1963 Source: AP/Press Association Images

MARTIN LUTHER KING Jr died on 4 April 1968, shot by a sniper while on the balcony of his Memphis motel room.

Every January, people across the United States remember the African-American reverend for the huge role he played in advancing the civil rights movement in America.

A proponent of nonviolent civil disobedience, King showed that activism can find strength in peaceful action.

Today, his achievements and tragic death are being remembered across not just the US, but the world. Here, we take a look at his life through the photos of the era.

King first emerged as a major name in 1955, when he was involved in the Montgomery bus boycott, which was against racial segregation on public transport in the Alabama town.

PA-8655853 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and his wife, Coretta, are shown outside Circuit Court in Montogomery, Al. on March 22, 1956. The Reverend was found guilty of conspiring the Montgomery Bus Boycott that began Dec. 5, 1955 Source: AP/Press Association Images

Here, he and his family are pictured in 1963:

MLK AND FAMILY ATLANTA Source: AP/Press Association Images

Here he is in Birmingham Alabama on April 6 1963. During this speech he said that all men should join him in wearing coveralls until Easter, to protest against the segregation of city facilities.

MARTIN LUTHER KING OVERALLS LON Source: AP/Press Association Images

When he and Rev Ralph Abernathy (left) led a line of demonstrators into the business section of Birmingham on April 12, 1963, they were removed by police.

CIVIL RIGHTS MARCH Source: AP/Press Association Images

An effigy of King is pictured hanged in front of the National States Right Party headquarters in Birmingham on May 5, 1963.

PA-8663440 Source: AP/Press Association Images

Here is King pictured with fellow civil rights leaders, Rev Fred Shuttlesworth, centre, and Rev Abernathy, at a press conference on suspending demonstrations in 1963,

REVERENDS NEWS CONFERENCE Source: AP/Press Association Images

August 28, 1963: The Reverend waves to the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington.

1963 and JFK Source: AP/Press Association Images

Making the famous speech:

March on Washington-King Source: AP/Press Association Images

In 1965 there was Bloody Sunday, a turning point for the fight for civil and voting rights. The new movie Selma looks at this period, when King and others tried to organise a march from Selma to Montgomery. But police violence against the 600 marchers during the first attempt led to one death and multiple injuries.

MLK Dr King is presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws and Letters by Rev Victor R. Yanitelli, president of Saint Peter's College in New Jersey, Sept. 22, 1965. Source: AP/Press Association Images

King speaks to residents at the Robert Taylor Homes on Chicago’s South Side. In 1966, he became involved in the Chicago Freedom Movement, and even moved into a building in the Chicago slums as part of his work to reform housing.

END OF TAYLOR Source: AP/Press Association Images

He travelled around the country to raise support – here he is addressing a crowd on a street in Lakeview, New York, on May 12, 1965.

Dr. Martin Luther King Speaking Banner Source: AP/Press Association Images

His book, ‘Why We Can’t Wait’, was about the nonviolent movement, in particular his work in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1968, along with the SCLC, he started the Poor People’s Campaign, which led to a march on Washington, DC. This campaign focused on the poor, on economic difference and poverty, and the need to address these issues.

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CAMPAIGN LITERATURE Source: AP/Press Association Images

In April 1968, King went to Memphis, Tennessee, where black sanitary workers had been on strike since 12 March that year. They were looking for better treatment and wages. He stayed at the Lorraine Motel, and spoke at a rally at Mason Temple. This was to be his final speech.

Here he is pictured with other civil rights leaders on the balcony of the motel on April 3, 1968. A day later, he was shot dead while standing almost in the same location.

KING BALCONY Source: AP/Press Association Images

King was shot in the face and was pronounced dead that evening after chest surgery in hospital. An escaped convict named James Earl ray was charged with King’s murder. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison, and wasn’t put on trial after pleading guilty.

Memphis King Motel Search Memphis detectives climb on a rail outside the room of Dr. Martin Luther King at the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, on April 4, 1968, searching for clues. (AP Photo) Source: AP/Press Association Images

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Death Casket Mourners crowd into the tiny chapel of a Memphis funeral home on Friday, April 5, 1968 to view the body of Dr. Martin Luther King. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The shock shooting led to riots:

MLK Assassination Headlines 1968 Source: AP/Press Association Images

PA-8657787 This aerial photo shows fire-gutted buildings, some still smouldering, along a block on H Street between 12th and 13th Streets in the northeast section of Washington, D.C. on April 5, 1968. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Despite his early death by assassination, by the age of 39 Rev Martin Luther King Jr had helped to bring about major change in the USA. During his lifetime, the civil rights acts were brought in that helped end segregation in the US. He stood behind the US President, Lyndon B Johnson, when he signed the momentous Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But as he showed, the fight against injustice didn’t end there – it also meant fighting for the poor, the vulnerable, and those who are marginalised in society.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.

Today, he is remembered as a man who helped change history, and, as the photo below marks, the winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize:

MLK AT OSLO FESTIVAL HALL Source: AP/Press Association Images

Read: Madonna is in trouble for using images of Martin Luther King and Jesus to promote new album>

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