Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Day

Martin Luther King Day is observed on January 15, 2018.  On this day, we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a man who brought hope and healing to America.  King dreamt that all Americans would be judged by their personalities and not by the color of their skin.  King was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929 and the holiday is celebrated on the Monday closest to that date.

Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister and activist, led a groundbreaking nonviolent civil-rights movement that gave African Americans the courage to speak-up.  In 1955, King led the Montgomery bus boycott.  A year-long civil-rights protest during which African Americans took a stand against segregation by refusing to give up their seats to white people on city buses.  The campaign was sparked by Rosa Parks who four days prior refused to give up her seat.

For the next 10 years, King organized several nonviolent protests and marches.  In 1963, he helped organize the March on Washington where he delivered his famous ‘I have a dream speech’ and earned a reputation as one of the greatest public speakers in American history.  His famous quotes include “injustice is a threat to justice everywhere” and “our lives begin to end the day we become silent on the things that matter.” In 1964, King received the Nobel Peace prize for his nonviolent fight against racial inequality.  In the final years of his life, King’s focus changed to include an opposition to extensive poverty and Vietnam War.  The latter alienated many of his allies.

In 1968, King was preparing for the Poor People’s Campaign.  Tragically, he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.  His death was followed by many cities riots.

Nearly 50 years after his death and his legacy lives on.  Hundreds of streets in America have been renamed in King’s honor as well as a whole county in Washington State.  Several cities and states began to mark Martin Luther King Day in 1971, just 3 years after his death. The date became an American federal holiday in 1986.  We honor his memory with the holiday.  Martin Luther King Day is a day for religious service and educating children about the history and looking back about how race relations have improved.  Over the years it has evolved into a day of service when Americans are encouraged to volunteer to help those less fortunate.