Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, January 21, 2013
“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
On January 21, 2013, we celebrate and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a federal holiday. This milestone is a perfect opportunity for Americans and the world to honor Dr. King’s legacy of nonviolent work for equality through service. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved unified community.
Martin Luther King was born on January 15, 1929, so his birth date is recognized as a federal holiday and is observed on the third Monday of every January. He is the first African American civilian and the first non U.S. president to have their own legal holiday, by Public Law 98-144 and passed by the 98th Congress on November 2, 1983. Dr. King was assassinated in April 1968; however, he continues to be remembered as one of the most lauded African-American iconic leaders in history.
The national recurring theme of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s holiday is “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On… Not a Day Off.” The theme calls for everyone to engage in public service and promote nonviolent social change. As we take a day "off" to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, please consider it as a day "On." It should be a day where we celebrate and reflect on how far we have come as a nation and how far we still have to go. MLK Day of Service is an event that represents social justice and community engagement throughout America. Volunteers will learn that even small changes can have a huge impact within their own neighborhood.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day commemorates his life, fight for racial equality, and freedom for all people which led him to become a symbol of hope and equality for all people.
Martin Luther King Jr’s life had an evolutionary impact on race relations across America and the world. His life and work have been honored with a national holiday; schools, streets, and public buildings have been named after him. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is also observed in many countries outside the USA as well. Cities like Hiroshima, Japan, and Toronto, Canada both celebrate the legacy of Dr. King with special celebrations. On August 28, 2011, a memorial was built in honor of Dr. King on Independence Mall in Washington, D.C. The memorial celebrates Dr. King’s life and work by leading and honoring his national and international contributions to world peace through non-violent social change.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a vital figure of the modern era and a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights Movement. His lectures and dialogues stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. His charismatic leadership inspired men and women, young and old, in this nation and around the world.
Following in the footsteps of his father, in February 1948, at the age of 19, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entered the Christian ministry and was ordained at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. In 1954, upon completion of graduate studies at Boston University, he accepted a call to serve at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. While there, he was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks. He resigned this position in 1959 to move back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. King was arrested 30 times for his participation in civil rights activities.
While Dr. King preached about justice, empowerment, love and peace, in the final months of his life, his attention was turned to fighting poverty. Sadly, more Americans live in poverty today than during Dr. King's lifetime. Forty-seven million Americans currently fall below the poverty line.
Dr. King was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 4, 1968. He had gone to Memphis to help lead sanitation workers in a protest against low wages and intolerable working conditions.
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