Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  The day is an American Federal Holiday set aside to celebrate his birthday on January 15.  Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader in the civil rights movement and spoke for nonviolent activism.  Soon after he died a bill was introduced to Congress to make his birthday a national holiday.  It came to vote in 1979 and fell five votes short.  It wasn’t until a campaign in 1980 that the bill gathered support again, and six million signatures were collected to petition congress.  President Reagan originally opposed the bill.  It passed the House of Representatives 338 to 90; a veto proof margin.  On November 2, 1983 President Reagan signed the bill into law.  The first observance came on January 20, 1986.  It wasn’t until 2000 that all 50 states observed the day.

Martin Luther Kings “I Have A Dream” speech is often considered a great speech, and one of his greatest speeches.  It was the last speech given as part of the March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom; held on August 28, 1963. The march was intended to demonstrate support for civil rights legislation.  Part of the goals that each group who organized the March included passage of meaningful civil rights legislation, program of public works including job training for the unemployed, a Federal law prohibiting discrimination in hiring, and a nationwide minimum wage.

You can watch the speech below and read a copy of the text at the link. The speech is often listed as one of the top speeches given.

5 thoughts on “Martin Luther King Jr.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this. My son and I watched “Selma” on Saturday and I continue to be amazed with what we let happen in our country. Seeing the Pettus bridge beatings which were on national TV left the audience in the same disbelief that I am sure the nation felt as it watched back then. This movie is a must see and we must continue conversations around race as we seem to have fallen back from our movement forward in several respects. I hope this movie and the recent shootings of unarmed men of color will begin the needed conversations. Thanks, BTG


    1. I haven’t seen the movie Selma yet. I am sure that the scenes in the movie were as dramatic as when it unfolded on national TV back in the 60’s. I can recall the images of Rodney King being beaten on TV in 1991.

      I agree that the conversation should continue, and it should include possible solutions for issues. Some of the discussion could include why there hasn’t ever been tracking of all officer involved shootings and use of force. As Eric Holder recently said, “The troubling reality is that we lack the ability right now to comprehensively track the number of incidents of either uses of force directed at police officers or uses of force by police.”

      As Martin Luther King Jr said in his speech, “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.”


  2. my brother met Dr. King … gave him a ride … I stood in front of the hotel room where he was shot one day … how can people do such things? The same fear and hostility exist today … some of it expressed in anger at our president … Each of us should look deeply at our own prejudice, at our own fears and then let them go when we realize we are in reality all true brothers and sisters living together in this universe.


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