Martin Luther King Day
January 16, 2012
On the third Monday in January of each year, Americans celebrate the birth of famous, nonviolent Civil Rights activist Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This month was chosen because of its close proximity to his birthday, January 15. It was officially declared a national holiday when President Ronald Reagan signed a bill declaring it in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was officially observed for the first time in January of 1986.
The Life and Times of Reverend Martin Luther King JR
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929 in Atlanta to Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King. Dr. King grew up in Atlanta, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School, before leaving at 15 for historic Morehouse College. After graduating from Morehouse with a degree in Sociology in 1948, he went on to attend Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he received a degree in divinity in 1951.
In 1953, Dr. King married Coretta Scott, with whom he would have four children. A year later, at the young age of 25, he became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Heiberger, Alabama. In 1955, he obtained his Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a legend in his own time, credited with many of the successful turning points in American civil rights that occurred during the 50’s and 60’s. A supporter of the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Howard Thurman, Dr. King honored the art of the non-violent civil disobedience.
Many attempts were made on Dr. King’s life. His home was bombed during the Montgomery Bus Boycott of the 1955-1956. In 1958 he was stabbed in the chest and nearly killed during a book signing in Harlem, by a deranged woman named Izola Curr. The final attempt on the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was unfortunately a successful one. On April 4, 1968 at 6:01 PM Dr. King was shot where he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”
– “I Have a Dream”, August 28, 1963
Reluctance and Acceptance of National Holiday
Though he never held public office, Nobel Peace Prize winner Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., may have changed more about operations in our country than any presidential candidate. Committed to equality for all, at the time of his death Dr. King had largely refocused his attention to creating a better world for poor Americans and ending the Vietnam War.
The bill proposing that a national holiday be created to observe the life of Dr. Martin King was first introduced by United States Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) and United States Senator Edward Brooke (R-Massachusetts) following his death. The bill did not successfully come up for vote until 1979, where it fell short of five necessary votes. The arguments proposed by representatives at that time were that it would be too expensive and that Dr. King was a common person, having never held an elected office.
After much campaigning, 6 million people signed a petition requesting that the day become a law in 1981. This was the largest petition in favor of a specific issue in United States history. The bill proposing a national holiday in honor of Dr. King was finally signed into law in 1983 and the holiday was officially observed in 1986.
Martin Luther King Day, Today
Although it was a long battle, the Dr. Martin Luther King Day is now observed in all 50 states in America every January. Though largely considered as an American holiday, it is celebrated with almost equal reverence in Hiroshima, Japan. Also, there are events each year in Toronto, Canada to mark the occasion.
To honor the incredible work of Dr. King, Americans are encouraged to treat this day as one of service. Dozens of events take place each January to facilitate volunteer efforts, as an ongoing testimonial to Dr. King.
The professional detailing staff at DetailXPerts celebrates Martin Luther King’s Day to support the dedication and passion of this great man who fought his entire life for a noble cause.