Holiday commemorates continuing fight for equality
January 17, 2013
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- He was born the middle child among two other siblings, to the late Rev. Martin King, Sr. and Alberta King, on Jan. 15, 1929. The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who would eventually become a world-wide icon, is referred to by many as the face of the Civil Rights Movement.
Prior to the notable recognitions he would later receive, King was very smart and studious early on. He graduated high school and entered college at age 15. He received a bachelor's degree in sociology, at age 19, from Morehouse College in Atlanta.
By age 25, King received his doctorate in systematic theology from Boston University. During this time frame he would also be appointed as the assistant pastor of Ebenezer Church, following into the ministerial footsteps of his beloved father.
King's first appearance in the eyes of a nation full of disparities was when he helped organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955.
The boycott was initiated when a black female seamstress, Rosa Parks, refused to give up her seat to a white person. Her actions defied the transportation laws during that time and she was arrested.
The boycott lasted a total of 381 days and gained national attention. This pivotal moment in history sparked legislators to look into segregation and declare it unconstitutional. This was a key factor in King's plight for equality and justice.
His acts of non-violent protest, sit-ins, voter registrations and marches earned him many acclamations in the United States and throughout the world.
King's most notable achievement was his organization of the 1963 March on Washington.
It is estimated a total of 200,000 people of every background and nationality were in attendance during the event.
The march began a series of events that ended with the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited racial discrimination. During the march, King would also deliver one of his famous speeches, entitled "I Have a Dream."
He was recognized as 1963's Man of the Year by Time Magazine. The next year, he received the Nobel Peace Prize.
King continued his momentum in the fight for freedom among all. His passion for shaping this country played a key role in his untimely departure from life.
While preparing for the Poor People's Campaign, in Memphis, King stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel to greet supporters. There, he was struck by a bullet and later pronounced dead.
Exactly four days after King's death, Congressman John Conyers of Michigan initiated legislation for a commemorative holiday in King's honor.
Although the bill was debated for years after King's death, in 1983, President Ronald Reagan declared every third Monday in the month of January as a federal holiday in observance of King's birthday. The first national holiday was recognized Jan. 20, 1986.
Twenty-seven years later we continue to pay homage to a man of many hats - a humanitarian, minister, father, leader, activist and, most of all, pioneer.
So, on Jan. 21, 2013, let us remember, celebrate and act. A DAY ON…NOT A DAY OFF!
Sources for this article include: www.wikipedia.org, www.thekingcenter.org, www.deomi.org and www.biography.com.