Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.  He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta before getting married and becoming a minister.  His grandfather began the family’s long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father had served after him.  King, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, helped to organize the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the Montgomery bus boycott, which lasted 382 days until December 21st, 1956, when the Supreme Court of the United States declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses.  During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time, he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.  Later in his life, he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization that was crucial in fighting for blacks during the civil rights movement.  He mirrored his operational techniques for running the organization after Gandhi. He planned numerous black voter registration drives and directed the peaceful March on Washington, D.C., where over two 250-thousand people gathered to hear him deliver his timeless address, the “l Have a Dream” speech.  
King was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963 and at the age of 35, became the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.  On the evening of April 4th, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.  Commemorating the life of a tremendously important leader, we celebrate Martin Luther King Day each year in January.


The third Monday of every January is a federal holiday, set aside to celebrate the birth, life and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But, it has only been a holiday for the past two decades – it took 15 years to sign the holiday into law. According to InfoPlease.com, Michigan Congressman John Conyers first introduced legislation for a commemorative holiday in 1968, four days after King was assassinated. After the bill was stalled, petitions endorsing the holiday containing six-million names were submitted to Congress. Congress passed the holiday legislation in 1983, which was then signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. King’s actual birthday is January 15th, but the holiday was created a week later to overcome opposition to the law.  The 15th was considered too close to Christmas and New Year’s.


 “I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow, but to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” – From “Rediscovering Lost Values,” February 28th, 1954
“The question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be.” – From “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16th, 1963
“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” – From “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16th, 1963
“We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.” – From “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” April 16th, 1963
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’” – From the “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28th, 1963
“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.” – From Martin Luther King Junior’s book Strength to Love, 1963
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – From Strength to Love, 1963

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