• Hailey Powell

The History of Martin Luther King Jr. Day



Grady County schools will be closed on Monday, January 18, in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Even though many MLK Day observances have been canceled this year due to the pandemic, let’s not forget who and why we celebrate.


On January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist, was born. The birth of the King took place in Atlanta, Ga. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the mid-twentieth century civil rights movement.


In 1983, King’s birthday was approved as a federal holiday to be observed on the third Monday of January each year. All 50 states worked together to make King’s birthday a state-government holiday by the year 2000, according to Wikipedia. On MLK Day, places that are closed include non-essential government offices, US Post Offices, most banks, state offices, and schools.


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is most commemorated for his contributions to the American Civil Rights movement during the 1960s. His parents, Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King, greatly influenced him by teaching him to recognize and respond to inequalities. Dr. King was most known for his message of nonviolence. He had a strong belief in peaceful protests.


According to Encyclopedia Britannica, his most illustrious work is his “I Have a Dream” speech performed to an extensive crowd of civil rights marchers congregated around the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. According to the History Channel, in this speech he communicated the lack of economic and civil rights in the United States. He pointed out the extreme racism in the United States at the time.


During the civil rights movement, MLK organized a number of marches and protests. According to Britannica, King was essential in many events including the Memphis sanitation workers' strike, the Montgomery bus boycott, and the March on Washington.


According to the Constitution Center, King was assassinated at 6:05 P.M. on Thursday, April 4, 1968 at age 39. He was shot while standing on a balcony outside his second-floor room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn. King was immediately rushed to the hospital but was announced dead shortly after arrival. James Earl Ray was named the assassin.


Sadly, Dr. King did not live to see the effects of his work. He lived a short but very influential life, and his legacy continues to live on.



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