To the Editor:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the 20th Century’s best-known advocates for human rights and non-violent social change.

Born in Atlanta, Ga., King’s exceptional oratorical skills and personal courage first attracted national attention rights activists after leading a boycott of transportation companies for acquiring non-whites to surrender their seats and stand at the back of the bus.

Over the following decades, King wrote, spoke and organized non-violent protests and mass demonstrations and to demand civil rights of African-Americans.

In 1963, in Birmingham, Ala., King guided a peaceful mass demonstration that the police force cornered with police dogs and fire hoses, creating a controversy that generated headlines that went around the world.

Subsequent massive demonstrations in many communities led to a march of more than 250,000 protesters to Washington, D.C.

This demonstration is where King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech in which he envisioned a world where people were no longer divided by race.

So powerful was the movement, King inspired Congress to enact the Civil Right Act in 1964, the same year he was honored with the Noble Peace Prize.

He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

King is an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.

HIs life and work symbolize the quest for equality and non-discrimination that lies at the heart of the American human dream.

I had the privilege and honor to have been seated next to Dr. King at the Bridgeport University at that time.

Fran Smith

New Milford