Martin Luther King’s unfinished dream: the historians’ view

Has the world been too eager to sanctify Martin Luther King Jr? Did establishment figures want him dead? And what is his legacy? More than 50 years on from his death on 4 April 1968, five historians tackle the most pressing questions on the great civil rights activist known for his 'I have a dream' speech...

Martin Luther King waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington DC during the March on Washington, 28 August 1963. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images)

I have a dream,” are the famous words by which Martin Luther King Jr is remembered today. The baptist minister, who was born in Atlanta, Georgia on 15 January 1929, led the civil rights movement in the United States until he was killed by assassination on 4 April 1968 at the hands of James Earl Ray. 

Every year on the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King day is celebrated around the world. But how much do you know about the civil rights activist? Here, five historians tackle some of the key questions about his life and legacy…

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