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Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a visionary leader, scholar, minister, and defender of equality who significantly impacted racial relations in the US during the 1950s. His advocacy, action, and motivational, assuaging talks led to the end of African American citizens' legal segregation. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is recognized for his accomplishments, including leading the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), establishing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and more ( Editors).

King's spiritual development was influenced by Morehouse College President Benjamin E. Mays, who advocated for racial equality. He enrolled in Boston University and married Coretta Scott, who had four children. King completed his Ph.D. in 1955.

In 1955, Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks, King, E.D. Nixon, and other civil rights activists organized a movement called the Montgomery Bus Boycott, which resulted in 382 days of harassment, violence, and intimidation for African Americans ( Editors). There were attacks on the homes of King and Nixon but both activists stayed resilient and continued the peaceful walk towards racial equality. The African American community also took legal action against the city ordinance, arguing it was unconstitutional based on the Supreme Court's "separate is never equal" decision in Brown v. Board of Education. After facing lower court rulings and financial losses, the city lifted the law mandating segregated public transportation. Due to King's persistence and great leadership, change was made.

In 1957, African American civil rights leaders formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to coordinate efforts and promote civil rights reform. King joined the organization, which aimed to enfranchise African Americans in voting.

Later, in 1959, King visited Gandhi's birthplace in India and gained a deeper commitment to the civil rights struggle. African American activist Bayard Rustin, who studied Gandhi's teachings, became a mentor and advisor to King, leading him to the 1963 March on Washington.

In 1983, President Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill, designating each third Monday of January as a federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The holiday took 15 years to become approved by the federal government and 17 years to be recognized in all 50 states (“The 15 Year Battle for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day”). Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy inspires us to strive for a more just and equitable world, and by honoring his memory, we can reaffirm our commitment to creating a better future.


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