What is Martin Luther King Jr. Day Really?

A story board of how racial segregation was combatted by Martin Luther King Jr. and reasoning to why we celebrate January 21st.


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Martin Luther King Jr. In 1964

Morgan Walje, Photographer & Staff Writer

        January 21st, does that date sound familiar to you? It happens to be this Monday and so starts our three day weekend because no school will be held.

The reason we don’t have school on Monday, January 21st is due to a very important leader in our past. What is the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. today? In case you forgot Martin Luther King Jr. what is an activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1954 until his death in 1968.

        In 1955, King led the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

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Rosa Parks.

        In 1957, King became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference also known as SCLC.

        With that he led an unsuccessful struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia in 1962. In 1963, King helped organize the non-violent protests in Birmingham, Alabama.

        Also in 1963, King lead a march on Washington where he delivered his famous “I Have A Dream Speech”.

Amit Primor
Washington March.

        In 1964, King won the Nobel peace prize for overcoming and combating racial inequality through a nonviolent resistance movement.

        In 1965, King helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches leading to the following year SCLC took the movement to Chicago.

        King then conducted a speech titled “Beyond Vietnam” by J Edgar Hoover around the time of the Vietnam war.

        In 1968, King planned a national occupation of Washington DC to be called the poor people’s campaign he was then assassinated on April 4 in Memphis Tennessee.   

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Poor Peoples Campaign March.

       That doesn’t mean that King’s hard work from combating racial inequality was worth nothing, he was post awarded the presidential medal of freedom along with the Congressional Gold Medal. This all seems like stuff we should have been taught in school and we may have but when was the last time that we actually celebrated Martin Luther King Junior on January 21 with sweets and decorations?

        This just proves that the importance of Martin Luther King Jr. has decreased immensely. It may be due to lack of information or just because racial segregation is better than what it was and the past is too far from today. Martin Luther King Junior day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971 when President Ronald Reagan signed the federal level by legislation in 1986. Therefore January 21st is left to celebrate Martin Luther King and his strength to overcome and combat racial segregation.