Martin Luther King Day is an American federal holiday, which celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King. This holiday commemorates a remarkable man who stood for non-violent protest of racial discrimination and who was also the figurehead of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States during the 1960’s. Dr. King for many is the singular voice which represents a tumultuous time of change and transition in our history. Only a few decades ago it was against federal law for children of a different color to play together, adults of a different color could not eat together publicly and as many of us know through the bravery of Rosa Parks, people of color were only able to ride in segregated buses. Dr. King, in his assertive yet peaceful manner, helped to change the direction of our nation and set a new tone which stood for equality, dignity and freedom.
For as long as I can remember, MLK Day has been a nationally observed holiday and a day meant for service to others. It’s interesting to note however, that MLK as a federal holiday was only signed into legislation by President Reagan in 1983. It took 3 more years for the holiday to be officially observed. During this time, conservative politicians such as Jesse Helms vehemently opposed the holiday calling Dr. King a communist and a Marxist. It was not until 1991 that all states finally adopted the day as a federal holiday at which time it became officially known as ‘Martin Luther King Day’ within all 50 states.
Today, not many people doubt the immeasurable contribution Dr. King made to our nation and to humankind in general. Many compare his efforts to those of Nelson Mandela in South Africa and to other historical greats such as Gandhi. What Dr. King understood is the merit and moral imperative of his own vision and ultimately the difference between right and wrong. He took the momentum created by the events of the day and propelled himself and the entire country into a movement that would change history and directly impact the lives of the millions of people surrounding him. He understood that change is inevitable, but that he must work to influence that change. He understood that you must stand for your beliefs and not be afraid to voice them and that when you stand with others you gain power. Although he had to drag much of the country along with him, at the end of the day he was on the right side of history. Change never comes easily, but we all must stand for what we believe in. Dr. King stands today as a source of inspiration to all, proving that no dream is too big.
“I Have a Dream” is Dr. King’s most famous speech, which impacted the world in 1963, without the help of social media. Here is what is widely considered the most inspiring excerpt from that speech:
“I have a dream that one day in the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream 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.” He dreamed of a day when all of God’s children would be able to join hands and to sing the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
We wish you the best on Martin Luther King Day.