Today marks what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 84th birthday. While this Monday is his official holiday (on the same day our nation's first Black president is inaugurated for a second term), we wanted to use his day of birth to celebrate five amazing things he did during his life.
+ Montgomery Bus Boycott
After Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a boycott. His passion for the cause and belief in nonviolence worked -- one year later in 1956, the Supreme Court put an end to the Alabama bus segregation laws.
+ March on Washington and “I Have a Dream”
In 1963, King spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, delivering his most-famous speech: “I Have a Dream.” More than 200,000 people were there in person to hear him say, “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream… that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’”
+ Eulogy after Birmingham Church Bombing
King preached nonviolence in a time and area full of danger, hate and murder for those who challenged the status quo. Shortly after his “I Have a Dream” speech, an African American church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed, killing four girls. In some ways this killing came to epitomize and symbolize many similar atrocities done to African Americans. King gave a eulogy, saying, “They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, and the philosophy which produced the murders.”
+ Selma to Montgomery March
In 1965, civil rights demonstrators first made an attempt to march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, only to be assaulted by police with clubs and tear gas. This became known as “Bloody Sunday.” A second attempt was made, led by King, and the third attempt of the march succeeded. King marched in front with other civil rights leaders, and he gave a speech after reaching Montgomery.
+ Poverty Rights and Anti-War Talk
King is best-known for his work as a civil rights leader, but not everyone knows he also dedicated his time and energy to fight poverty. In 1967 he helped organize the Poor People’s Campaign. Keeping with his nonviolent beliefs, he was also an anti-war activist who spoke out against the Vietnam War. He was critical of the fact money could go more easily to war funds than to anti-poverty measures.
How has MLK's work made an impact on your way of life? Let us know in the comments or Tweet us!