TODAY, Americans celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The day is usually celebrated on the third Monday of January, which is around the late activist’s birthday. It just so happened that this year, the birthday actually fell on his real birth date. King was born on Jan. 15, 1929. He became the most visible leader of the civil rights movement in the late 1950s through the 1960s. The Nobel Peace Prize winner was assassinated in 1968.

King paved the way for African-Americans to eventually have equal rights in the US. This is why King is celebrated and always remembered. A number of films and a Broadway play have also been made featuring King’s heroism. Here are the actors who have played King.


Movie: "Selma" (2014) Age: 41 Nationality: British / Nigerian What’s his next film? "God Particle" (movie)

It was the most glaring snub in the 2015 Oscars, which prompted a critic to start the hashtag: #OscarsSoWhite, when David Oyelowo (right) did not receive an Academy Award nomination for best actor in his portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma.” The movie received two Oscar nominations and won best original song for John Legend and Common’s “Glory.” However, the lead actor and director Ava DuVernay, also a woman of color, were not recognized. “Brad Pitt was so unhappy about the snub,” Oyelowo said about the Oscars. Pitt was among the producers of “Selma” along with frequent collaborator Dede Gardner and Oprah Winfrey. But the actor received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor and trophies from the Critics’ Choice Movie Award for best actor and the NAACP Image Award for outstanding actor.


Broadway production: "The Mountaintop" (2009) Age: 69 Nationality: American What’s his next project? "Die Hard 6" (movie)

The Guinness World Records has determined that Samuel L. Jackson is the world’s highestgrossing actor having earned $.42 billion in 68 films. He has been the bad guy, the good guy, a superhero that creates ice, and the man in the motherf**king plane with the motherf**king snakes. And so it’s no surprise that he also donned the hero suit of Martin Luther King Jr., but this time, in a play with Angela Bassett (top photo). The play is a fictional depiction of King’s last night on earth—the eve of his assassination.


Movie: "The Butler" (2013) Age: 39 (Died July 8, 2017) Nationality: American

Before his death, Nelsan Ellis played the flamboyant Lafayette Reynolds in the HBO television series “True Blood” (right). So it was a breath of fresh air when he took on the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the critically received film “The Butler” featuring an all-star cast: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, David Oyelowo, Mariah Carey, Terrence Howard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Robin Williams, John Cusack, Liev Schreiber, among others. Ellis died from heart failure due to alcohol withdrawal syndrome.