With Black History Month soon coming to an end, it is important to recognize a Holiday that seems to simply pass without remembering its significance. On the 3rd Monday of every January, Americans across the country observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is a federal holiday so most students are free from school and many workers get the day off. Although many use this day to relax and have fun, every American citizen should pay homage and honor one of the most influential Americans in US history, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
MLK was born on January 15, 1929 to Reverend Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King. Dr. King’s father was a pastor and so young Martin grew up attending church and became an active member. While growing up, Dr. King faced many difficulties from his peers because of the color of his skin. Dr. King followed his father’s footsteps and trained to become a pastor. On June 18, 1953, he married Coretta Scott, a singer from Alabama. Dr. King and his wife settled down in Montgomery, Alabama, where he also became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
During his years in Montgomery, the city became the center of struggle for civil rights in America. In 1955, two women, Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks, protested against the Jim Crow laws that made them move to the back of the bus in order to let other white people sit. They both eventually got arrested which sparked the Montgomery bus boycott lead by Dr. King. The Supreme Court eventually ruled the separation of colored people on the bus unconstitutional, and Dr. King became famous across the country.
Dr. King continued his campaign in Birmingham when he gathered with the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) and led a number of peaceful protests. These events eventually resulted in getting Dr. King jailed even though he was leading a number of peaceful demonstrations. During his time in jail, King wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” where he shared his ideas about inequality and the importance of civil disobedience in America.
Out of all his demonstrations, Dr. King is most well known for his “I Have A Dream” speech that he delivered to a crowd in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington in 1963. Dr. King used his powerful voice and influential words to express the hardships African Americans face and what he wants for future generations. His speech is considered to be one of the best speeches in American history. Dr. King was assassinated a few years later on March 29, 1968, when James Earl Ray fatally shot Dr. King while he was standing on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee.
Dr. King easily influenced the lives of many Americans not just during his time but even people today. Soon after he was assassinated, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which gave all people of color equal rights. Many parks, streets, and memorials were constructed to honor his legacy throughout the world, and not just in the United States. Dr. King is also recognized during Black History Month during the month of February which honors many famous African Americans for their achievements.
Jonathan Chun, Grade 9
West Ranch High School