Who is Martin Luther King and Why Do We Have a Holiday Named After Him?
Who is Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a civil right activist, a baptist minister, and a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. He was a firm supporter of non-violent protest and one who fought for equality for African Americans. He was the driving force behind the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King, who was well known for his “I have a Dream” speech, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered each year on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day since 1986.
Why do we celebrate his day?
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated because of his vision to see that “all men are created equal.” Earlier in our country’s history, blacks and whites were segregated. Blacks could not work with Whites, live in the same neighborhood or send their school to the same schools as Whites, or get the same treatment as Whites. Many people for against this but only one was able to stand out immensely: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Between 1955-1968, King helped change America. He made it known to the world that Blacks were treated unfairly. He fought to change the United States’ traditions and laws that forced Blacks the status of second-class citizens. Among these laws were those that required Blacks to take the back seats in buses and block voting made by Blacks. Led by Martin Luther King, Jr., Blacks used marches, boycotts, and other non-violent protest to demand equal treatment and an end to racial prejudices.
On August 28, 1963, King gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. with more than 200,000 people of all races in attendance to deliver a speech. What he said changed the world: “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveholders will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood….I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” (Read and listen to his “I Have a Dream” speech). Not long after did the U.S. Congress pass a law prohibiting discrimination in voting, education, employment, housing, and public accommodations.
Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. Since then, the third Monday of every January is celebrated in his honor.
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