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US Honors Slain Civil Rights Hero MLK

January 16, 2012

Americans are honoring the memory of civil rights icon Martin Luther King, 44 years after he was assassinated.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,

Martin Luther King Day, on Monday, is an annual federal holiday marking the birthday of King, who fought discrimination and racism in the 1950s and 1960s. King would have been 83 years old this year.

New this year is the towering monument to the Baptist preacher and activist on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

President Barack Obama — the nation's first black president — spoke at a ceremony for the new memorial in October, declaring that the United States must follow King's example by continuing to strive and struggle for a better country.

Mr. Obama said King “stirred our conscience” through his campaign for racial equality.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

He gained prominence after leading a successful protest against segregation on the buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Under that system, blacks were required to sit in the back of the bus and, if the vehicle was full, they had to give their seats to white people.

The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 made segregation illegal. King, an advocate for non-violent protests, won the Nobel Peace Prize the same year.

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