Martin Luther King Jr.


Isabella Hansen

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an annual holiday observed on the third Monday of January. Martin Luther King Jr’s actual birthday is January 15th, 1929. The holiday is not on King’s birthday because of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed in 1968 and moved many federal holidays to Mondays, creating more extended weekends for workers and better schedules throughout the year.

President Reagan signed the bill for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Senate then passed the bill with a count of 78 to 22. It went to the House of Representatives with a count of 338 to 90. It is now an important holiday in America’s history and future and will always be celebrated with great pride and respect throughout the United States.

King himself was an American Baptist minister and believed in peaceful protests. He was sprung into leadership when Rosa Parks refused to give her seat on a bus to a white person. Parks was arrested in violation of the city’s segregation laws. As a result of this event, a group of activists formed The Montgomery Improvement Association and appointed King as their leader.

King said, “We have no alternative but to protest” in his first speech to the Montgomery Improvement Association. King held many peaceful protests and was arrested 29 times because of them. 

Over time, people started to question King’s nonviolent marches. When the nation began to think King was not getting enough done, Black militancy (a more violent civil rights thinking) began to grow.

King admitted in 1968 that he became “tired of marching” and “tired of going to jail.” That same year, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed while on the second-story balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

James Earl Ray, the accused assassin of King, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Ray later reenacted his confession, stating that lawyers coerced him into confessing. Members of King’s family began to join Ray’s side and pleaded for a reopening of his case. James Earl Ray died on April 23, 1998, without a reopening. Though the US government held multiple investigations into the assassination of King and found Ray to be the sole assassinator, the killing remains a dispute.

There is now a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in downtown Washington, DC, to honor and remember him for being a leader and a large part of the civil rights movement.

Martin Luther King Jr. was an activist, a resilient and peaceful person, but first and foremost, he believed in equality throughout every nation. Remember and honor him this Monday.


 Image: Pexels.

“Challenges of the Final Years of Martin Luther King, Jr. .” Encyclopædia Britannica

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