Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 18, 2010

“Now, I say to you today my friends, 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. 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.” – Martin Luther King Jr. – Speech at the Lincoln Memorial

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the most prominent African-American Leaders in American History.  King’s message of “somebodiness” (which is the celebration of human worth and the conquest of subjugation” was not simply focused on African-Americans, it was to all people and to all nations.1 That message has spread world-wide, but here in the United States it was particularly poignant as it gave African-Americans and the poor a sense of identity and purpose.   This coupled with Dr. King’s, “philosophy of nonviolent direct action, and his strategies for rational and non-destructive social change, galvanized the conscience of [the American] nation and reordered its priorities.”2 Without his influential hand and that of prominent men in Washington recognizing the need for change, the modern age of America that today’s generation enjoys would still be an enigma and a mystery.

Dr. King’s influence has not faltered.  It has continued on as sure as the sun rises in the East.  In fact it may be felt as much as it was during his campaign for equality during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Dr. King’s message; however, has changed slightly, no longer is it the push for racial equality, but it is a  calling for social activism and community awareness. An opportunity to become active in one’s community and to aid those who are in need. That message is still felt throughout the United States and particularly here in Philadelphia, where the Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service is still the largest in the nation. This message to become proactive thinkers and activists is Dr. King’s legacy and is clearly evident when one listens to Dr. King’s speeches and sermons. Few have had his ability to invigorate a community  and to inspire communal passion like Dr. King: Embedded here is probably his most influential speech, but below is another of great influence as well.

 

“We Shall Overcome”

Here are some DID YOU KNOW’s about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Did You Know? that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birth name is actual Michael.3  Here is his biography from the Nobel Prize committee.

Did You Know that the March on Washington was originally called the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom?

Did You Know? that On December 8, 1999, a jury of twelve citizens of Memphis, Shelby County, TN concluded in Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King, III, Bernice King, Dexter Scott King and Yolanda King Vs. Loyd Jowers and Other Unknown Conspirators that Loyd Jowers and governmental agencies including the City of Memphis, the State of Tennessee, and the federal government were party to the conspiracy to assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.4 

Did You Know? While all states now observe the holiday, some did not name the day after King. Here are some examples:

In Utah, the holiday was known as “Human Rights Day” until the year 2000, Utah has since remaned it from Human Rights Day to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

In Virginia, it was originally known as Lee-Jackson-King Day. Yes, that’s correct it originally celebrated Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson. 

 Mississippi shares this co-celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and Robert E. Lee’s birthday on the third Monday of January.

In Arizona, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is known as “Martin Luther King Day” and is finally celebrated, because for along while it was not celebrated at all, for fear that it would cost too much money. 

New Hampshire gives the day a much longer official name, naming it “Martin Luther King, Jr. Civil Rights Day.”

Did You Know that South Carolina was the last state to officially recognize Martin Luther King Day as a state holiday for all state employees?

 1. The King Center http://www.thekingcenter.org/DrMLKingJr/ 

2. ibid

3. The Nobel Prize Official Website: http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-bio.html

4.  The King Center http://www.thekingcenter.org/DrMLKingJr/ 

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