Martin Luther King Jr. Day


Anisha Zaman, Cen10 News Reporter

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, always falling on the third Monday in January, is a federal holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. The  federal holiday, falling on Jan. 15 this year has been a holiday since 1986; federal workplaces and schools get a day off.

Martin Luther King Jr., also known as MLK, is an important social reform historical figure. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1929. He graduated high school at 15 after attending segregated public schools. King attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, and then Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, earning a Bachelor’s degree. He then got his doctorate at Boston University in 1955. He began a family with Coretta Scott in Boston, having two sons and two daughters.

In Montgomery, Ala., King became Dexter Avenue Baptist Church’s pastor in 1954 and an executive member to the NAACP, taking leadership over many boycotts, including Rosa Parks’ famous bus protest. In the process, he was severely abused and arrested many times. Then, in 1957, King became a leader of the civil rights movement, being elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

He traveled across the country, writing books, and making many speeches revolving around civil rights. On Aug. 28, 1963, more than 200,000 people gathered to hear King make his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at a peaceful march on Washington D.C. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He emphasized that he wished for Americans not to be treated in correlation to their skin color, but by what kind of a person they are; he wanted all men to be brothers.

The following year, President Lyndon B. Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed segregation and racial discrimination. King was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963, and won the Nobel Peace Prize at just 35 years old. He gave the prize money of $54,123 to support the civil rights movement.

He was assassinated on April 4, 1964, by James Earl Ray,  while speaking in Tennessee.

King is viewed as a role model and a symbolic world leader of blacks and other races alike.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed by taking part in civic community service projects and events.