• 1948

    Is ordained as a Baptist minister
  • 1954

    Becomes minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • December 1, 1955

    Seamstress and civil rights activist Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, sparking the year-long Montgomery bus boycott. Within days, the Montgomery Improvement Association is founded to coordinate the boycott. King is elected president of the organization.
  • January 30, 1956

    King's house is bombed while he is at a meeting. His wife and daughter, home at the time, are uninjured.
  • 1956

    After the U.S. Supreme Court rules that bus segregation laws are unconstitutional, the Montgomery boycott ends. King emerges as a national civil rights leader.
  • 1957

    The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) is established in Atlanta, with King as president.
  • 1960

    Moves from Montgomery to Atlanta and becomes co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father.
  • April 1963

    King is arrested for leading a march in Birmingham, Alabama. While in solitary confinement he writes an essay entitled "Letter from Birmingham Jail."
  • August 28, 1963

    During the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, King delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The demonstration is attended by more than 250,000 people.
  • 1963

    Is named Time magazine's Man of the Year.
  • July 2, 1964

    King stands behind President Lyndon B. Johnson as Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.
  • 1964

    Wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 1965

    Helps organize civil rights protests in Selma, Alabama.
  • August 6, 1965

    President Johnson signs the Voting Rights of 1965.
  • April 4, 1967

    King delivers a speech against the war in Vietnam in New York City.
  • December 1967

    The Poor People's Campaign is launched.
  • April 4, 1968

    King is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, by James Earl Ray.
  • 1976

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities releases a report stating that from 1963-1968 King was the subject of extensive FBI surveillance.
  • 1977

    Is posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Jimmy Carter.
  • 1983

    President Ronald Reagan signs a law making King's birthday a federal holiday, to be observed annually on the third Monday in January.
  • 1980

    The Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site opens in Atlanta. It includes his birthplace, burial crypt, the Eternal Flame and Ebenezer Baptist Church.
  • 1991

    The National Civil Rights Museum opens at the site of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where King was assassinated.
  • April 23, 1998

    King's assassin, James Earl Ray, dies in prison.
  • June 9, 2000

    The Justice Department announces the conclusion to an 18-month investigation. They find that there is no reliable evidence to support a conspiracy behind King's murder.
  • January 30, 2006

    Coretta Scott King dies at the age of 78.
  • June 23, 2006

    An Atlanta coalition pays $32 million for a collection of King's personal papers, to be stored at Morehouse College.
  • November 13, 2006

    The groundbreaking ceremony for the Martin Luther King Jr. National Monument in Washington, D.C. takes place. It will be the first monument on the National Mall dedicated to an African-American.
  • October 16, 2011

    The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial is dedicated. The statue is located between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial on the National Mall.