The Meaning of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
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The Meaning of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

"We've learned to fly the air like birds...and yet we haven't learned to walk the Earth as brothers and sisters."

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The Meaning of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
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Every year, on the third Monday of January, Americans are given a chance to reflect and observe the tremendous impact that Martin Luther King Jr. still has on the world.

Only four days after the assassination of Dr. King in 1968, the first legislation insisting on a Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday was introduced by Michigan congressman John Conyers. Shortly after, the King Center sponsored the observance of the holiday and turned to support from the public.

In 1971, the Southern Leadership Christian Conference presented Congress with petitions reaching nearly three million signatures in favor of the King Holiday, but Congress neglected the gathered petitions and took no action to pursue the creation of the holiday.

The campaign to create the holiday took off in 1980 when musician Stevie Wonder released the song "Happy Birthday," commemorating the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. The song inspired many to join the movement for a Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

After a toilsome 15 year battle, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Although passed in 1983, the bill was not put into effect until 1986.

The celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr. is about more than his dream for America. During a time of separation and segregation in the United States, Dr. King upheld the law of the land by using his First Amendment right to voice the injustice occurring in our nation. His values of courage, persistence and solicitude inspired a nation, and then the world.

Having overcome nearly 30 arrests, Dr. King never let the criminal justice system take away the fight in him. Having his home bombed while speaking at a mass meeting, Dr. King never responded with violence. Having been stabbed during a book signing in Harlem only a decade prior to his assassination, Dr. King repeatedly affirmed his principles of nonviolence and expressed not a hint of malice toward his attacker. Reverend King's fearless spirit is remembered and commemorated on this holiday to remind the American people of the power of unconditional love.

Today, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a day that unites not only our country, but the world that we live in. Whether it be through service or spirit, on this day, people come together to give back. In all 50 states, citizens engage in service activities in order to strengthen communities and achieve a common goal.

On this day, people of all ages and backgrounds uphold Dr. King's devotion to equality and social justice by giving back to their communities to help address and find a solution to our nation's most critical problems. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in a world absent of poverty, war and violence. To celebrate this day is to celebrate his vision of a unified community.

Martin Luther King, Jr. served his life giving back to others, and on the third Monday of January everyone should mirror his humility and aim to give back.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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