Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day

King
King
Courtesy of Scarlet Sappho (Flickr CC0)

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Day) is a federal holiday that honors the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr. It’s a time to celebrate his life and legacy, and to encourage acts of service in honor of his work.

When Is It Held?

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is on the third Monday of January each year. It is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15th. The holiday is an occasion to celebrate King’s life and legacy and to encourage acts of service in honor of his work.

The first MLK Day was celebrated in 1986. It replaced Washington’s Birthday as a federal holiday since many people considered that day too controversial because it honored someone who owned slaves himself. Although he later became an advocate for equal rights for all Americans regardless of race or ethnicity.

He was born Michael Luther King but changed his name when he began preaching at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama over 50 years ago. He was 25 years old. After being convicted on charges related to participating in non-violent protests against segregation laws — then prevalent throughout much of America’s southland region known as Dixie Land (The South).

His Birth

He was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia to Reverend King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. MLK Jr. was the oldest of four children. His father was a minister who preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church and preached non-violence as a way to end racism and injustice. MLK Jr.’s mother taught at the church’s Sunday school. He attended segregated public schools until eighth grade when he began attending Booker T Washington High School (now known simply as Booker T Washington). He went on to graduate from Morehouse College with honors after excelling academically and athletically throughout his time there.

This influenced Martin Luther’s view of pacifism when dealing with injustice. It allowed him to lead peaceful protests against segregation laws in Montgomery Alabama without any violence. Those marches ultimately led up to desegregation busing orders being passed throughout America. Although some people still lost their jobs because of this.

King Jr.’s Legacy

King
Courtesy of Wally Gobetz (Flickr CC0)

King Jr. was a Baptist minister who was a leader in the American civil rights movement from 1955 through 1968, but he is best known for his role in organizing the 1963 March on Washington and gave the famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus for white passengers only. This led directly to MLK Jr’s involvement with The Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA). The MIA is an organization founded by Reverend Ralph Abernathy along with Dr. Rufus Clement among others.

They helped organize boycotts against local businesses until they caved under pressure from losing business when Black customers stopped shopping there because their stores would not allow Blacks inside their establishments. The boycott lasted 381 days before ending successfully.

Once they started getting results they decided it would be better if someone else besides themselves did all that hard work. The organization elected MLK Jr. president so he could carry out these tasks while everyone else focused on helping him improve community relations.

Education and Accomplishments

He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta and Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania before attending Boston University where he earned his doctorate degree.

In 1964, MLK Jr. became the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end racial segregation and discrimination through civil disobedience and other nonviolent means.

He was a great leader who inspired people to do great things. He introduced the idea of nonviolence as a way to protest, and he was able to use his gifts as a speaker and writer to bring about change in the world. However, King Jr. did not accomplish everything he set out to achieve. He died before he could see his dream come true: racial equality throughout America.

Becoming a Leader

In the midst of a time when many people were fighting for equality, King Jr. was able to rise above all others in his ability to lead. He was a man of confidence and charisma, who knew how to inspire others with his words and actions. His leadership skills came naturally:

  • He was a good listener and speaker.
  • Had a strong sense of justice, which meant he could always see both sides of an argument.
  • He had a strong sense of social responsibility towards others.
  • And he had faith in God.

The Assassination of King Jr.

The assassination of MLK Jr. was a tragedy, but it also inspired people to continue his work toward civil rights. The civil rights movement continued and achieved many of its goals. Today, Black individuals have opportunities that were unthinkable in 1968. They can vote, marry whomever they love, and have their relationship recognized by the law. Women are no longer treated as second-class citizens in this country or elsewhere around the world.

King Jr. Was a Leader Who Could Inspire

King Jr. was a leader and a person who knew how to inspire people. He was a great orator, he could motivate people to do things they never thought they could do, and he had a vision of a better world.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time to reflect on the life and legacy of this great man and to honor his work in civil rights. It is also an occasion to encourage others to become involved in community service projects, as he did during his life.

By Sheena Robertson

Sources:

The Nobel Prize: Martin Luther King Jr.
Britannica: Martin Luther King, Jr.
CNN: ‘I Have a Dream’ is MLK’s most radical speech — not because of what he said then, but because of how America has changed since

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Scarlet Sappho‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Wally Gobetz‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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