Martin Luther King Jr. Day
On Nov. 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday, to be observed the third Monday of January, effective Jan. 20, 1986.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia on Jan. 15, 1929. He became a spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination on April 4, 1968. Dr. King worked to raise public awareness of racism, to end racial discrimination and segregation in the United States.
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
What is the importance of this federal holiday?
Dr. King’s involvement, actions and support to other leaders in the civil rights movement prompted changes in laws that protect every American’s constitutional rights, regardless of color, race, sex or national origin.
Some of the greatest achievements of the civil rights movement were:
- Executive Order 9981 (1948) ended segregation in the Armed Services.
- Brown v. Board of Education (1954) effectively ended racial segregation in public schools.
- The Civil Rights Act (1964) outlawed segregation in schools, public places or jobs.
- The Voting Rights Act (1965) gave all African-Americans the right to vote.
- The Fair Housing Act (1968) banned discrimination in housing.
The civil rights movement led to greater social and economic mobility for African-Americans across the nation and banned racial discrimination, providing greater access to resources for women, religious minorities, African-Americans and low-income families.
What are we fighting for today?
Many of us can see all the inequalities, and the need to bridge the gap between them. Today, we are still working to achieve equal rights for all minorities, races, genders, economic classes, among others. The list is long, and the road is difficult, but if we consciously take time to understand these issues, know the different perspectives, get involved with an open mind, and walk towards a better society, the world will be a bit safer for all of us. Being human is to evolve, learn, adapt, change; and above all live free.
I like to believe that we all have an important place in history, because the actions we take to make our world a better place define the future of human kind. That is exactly what this day means to many of us. The reminder that our past brings hope for our future, that a single act of kindness is followed by another, that I can be the change, and together we can accomplish great things. A day like today makes us thankful for the right to enjoy the civil liberties or personal freedoms denied to many before us and gives us a real grasp of today’s civil rights fights.We have a long way to go, a lot of work to do, but today, let’s celebrate the greatest accomplishments of history that continues making our world a better place for all and remembering those famous words that inspired us… “I have a 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.”