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Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Monday, January 16, 2017

An important civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His advocacy of non-violent protest led to his becoming the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.​

A Baptist minister, he was the driving force behind major events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, which helped bring about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him.  Congress approved the enabling legislation in 1983, but changed the date from Jan. 15, King's birthday, to the third Monday in January, and in 1986 it became a federal holiday. 

Fifty-four years ago, In August of 1963, 250,000 people marched into Washington D.C. in support of the civil rights movement. It was there that Martin Luther King gave the "Dream" speech for which he is most remembered:

"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.' 
"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
"I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. 
"I have a dream that my four 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. I have a dream today."

Martin Luther King day commemorates America’s pre-eminent advocate of nonviolence — the man who taught by his example that nonviolent action is the most powerful, revolutionary force for social change.