By Staff Reports, ANAD EEO OfficeJanuary 11, 2018
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The theme for this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On…Not A Day Off, is one which has been used for many years.
Many great strides have been accomplished since King's non-violent movement for civil rights started. Yet, we have a very long way to go.
On MLK Day, people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds, diversities and cultures take time and provide service to their community.
The day reminds us of the time when many did not have the same civil rights as others.
It invokes in us to celebrate being able to share equally in those rights now.
It may appear as a simple business etiquette today, but, there was a time when many people paid for food at a window and were not allowed to sit in the dining area to enjoy their meal with the other patrons.
The struggle for equal treatment for all remains under scrutiny and fire when we become complacent and comfortable with past accomplishments.
Much work is required to maintain these achievements in civil rights.
Much work remains to overcome obstacles individuals continue to experience and endure each day.
This year's poster from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute focuses on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., the site of Bloody Sunday on March 7, 1965.
On that date, state and local lawmen attacked civil rights demonstrators as they attempted to march from Selma to the state capital in Montgomery.
Films of the event leave you speechless as you watch the courage and conviction of non-violence the demonstrators maintained.
It was a horrific day for the movement for equal rights and civil rights.
King's movement was one of non-violence -- marching, boycotting and making public appearances; yet participants were often met with violence and death.
In a letter he wrote during an incarceration in the Birmingham Jail, King wrote, "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."
This year, we present a challenge taken from a speech King made April 18, 1959, at the Youth March for Integrated Schools. It fits several of today's social issues.
"Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country and a finer world to live in."
King also stated, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
Remember, MLK Day is A Day on…Not a Day Off!
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Facts
• In 1955, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was recruited to serve as spokesman for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which was a campaign by the African American population of Montgomery, Ala., to force integration of the city's bus lines. After 381 days of nearly universal participation by citizens of the black community, many of whom had to walk miles to work each day as a result, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in transportation was unconstitutional.
• In 1963, King was one of the driving forces behind the March for Jobs and Freedom, more commonly known as the "March on Washington," which drew over a quarter-million people to the National Mall. It was at this march that King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, which cemented his status as a social change leader and helped inspire the nation to act on civil rights. He was later named Time magazine's "Man of the Year."
• King was arrested numerous times for his participation in civil rights activities. While he preached about justice, empowerment, love and peace, in the final months of his life, his attention was turned towards fighting poverty. Sadly, more Americans live in poverty today than during King's lifetime. Forty-seven million Americans currently fall below the poverty line.
• Drawing inspiration from both his Christian faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950's and '60s to achieve legal equality for African Americans in the United States. While others were advocating for freedom by "any means necessary," including violence, King used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly impossible goals.
• In September of 1958, King was stabbed while signing copies of his latest book on a sidewalk in Harlem, New York. The blade rested on his aorta, the main artery in the body. While recovering in the hospital, King received countless letters from well-wishers. Among them was one that King recalled as the most memorable of the bunch: "Dear Dr. King, I am a ninth-grade student at the White Plains High School. While it should not matter, I would like to mention that I'm a White girl. I read in the paper of your misfortune, and of your suffering. And I read that if you had sneezed, you would have died. And I'm simply writing you to say that I'm so happy that you didn't sneeze."
• In January 1986, Coretta Scott King oversaw the first legal holiday in honor of her late husband. Martin Luther King Jr. Day has come to be celebrated by millions of people in over 100 countries.