Martin Luther King Day is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of January. It celebrates the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation on public transport and for racial equality in the United States.
The Meaning of the King Holiday
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example — the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.
The Speech – “I have a Dream”
It was late in the day and hot, and after a long march and an afternoon of speeches about federal legislation, unemployment and racial and social justice, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. finally stepped to the lectern, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, to address the crowd of 250,000 gathered on the National Mall. Here is his dream, click video above to listen to his inspirational words.
5 Ways to Honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
GIVE SOMETHING – your time, your gently used clothes, your retired household items.
LEARN SOMETHING – The life and times of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. fill enough tomes to keep the most voracious readers satisfied until kingdom come, but consider smaller bites for Monday in the form of documentaries (check your TV listings) or even archived news conferences available on the Internet or History Channel website.
TEACH SOMETHING – Learn all you can and share with others, particularly young people. Discuss with others or make it a challenging game about understanding the legacy of King and help them fill in the blanks. Organize a field trip to the library if you need some scholarly support, or find a King-focused church service to highlight the influence of where he was spiritually moored.
COMMIT TO SOMETHING – King’s legacy includes his unwavering commitment to civil rights and non-violent social change. What better way to pick up on the theme than by applying such principles to your own community. Among the questions you might ask yourselves: Do all your neighbors have unfettered access to polling places? Are the elderly as nourished as they should be? Are your best schools equally accessible by all? Are the children physically fit and destined for healthy adult lifestyles? These are a few possible places to begin your mission.
DREAM SOMETHING – King’s dream is well documented, thanks to his 17-minute, Lincoln Memorial speech at the March on Washington nearly 50 years ago.
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain,” he said on August 28, 1963, “and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
This is Martin Luther King Jr’s dream … what is your dream?