What Makes Martin Luther King Day?

Posted on January 18, 2013 by


Martin Luther King Day is held annually on the third Monday in January. This federal holiday celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaigns to end racism.

A peaceful man, King tried to create a nonviolent world  for everyone. Unfortunately, his controversial speeches led to his assassination. The Stone of Hope was erected in West Potomac Park, Washington D.C., to honor him after he died.

His most famous speech, famous throughout all of America, is known as the “I have a Dream” speech. King was awarded a Nobel peace prize and was the youngest person to ever receive one. Though he was assassinated in 1968, Martin Luther King Day didn’t actually start until 1986 and didn’t appear in all states until 2000. Martin Luther King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, was disappointed that she didn’t get enough support from Reagan’s administration. Some southern states protested the holiday, but, by 2000, all the states participated.

People today celebrate Martin Luther King Day in elementary schools by reading books about racism and slavery. Some high schools have their students write papers on his life and his speeches. Other famous speeches were “The Birth of a New Nation,” “Our God is Marching On,” and “Beyond Vietnam.”

King’s “I have a dream” speech was seventeen minutes long. The famous speech earned its name from its beginning line, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”  This inspiring line touched people everywhere and still today affects the way many people act toward others. The speech was voted the top American speech of the 20th century in 1999. As a result, this speech had a big part in the civil rights movement.

Martin Luther King was shot on April 4, 1968.  Even though he was murdered, his speeches and the inspiration he left behind still touch people all over the country.  Americans of all races are constantly reminded of his commitment and hard work, especially during February, which is celebrated as Black History Month.

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