It’s the third Monday in January and while some are just happy to have a 3 day weekend built into the work calendar there are some who are celebrating the legacy of a great man, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was a man who selflessly gave his time, his freedom and eventually his life in the pursuit of freedom and equality for you and I. Today we commemorate the life and untimely death of a man who put himself in harms way to fight for the rights of people he had never met and even those who were yet to be born. There are rights and privileges we take for granted today that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died praying that his children would one day have.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the formal beginning of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national holiday. After Dr. King’s assassination is 1968 individual cities started to celebrate his life annually as early as 1971. In 1983 President Reagan signed a bill that would create a federal holiday in observance of Dr. King. The bill stipulated that the holiday would start in 1986 and be observed on the third Monday of January each year. Three states held out but finally adopted the holiday, Arizona in 1992, New Hampshire in 1999 and with Utah in 2000, 2000 became the first year the whole nation celebrated MLK Day.
Around the country today parades and celebrations will take place celebrating the life of Dr. King, many on streets named after the great activist. In 2014 it was estimated that there were over 900 streets named after King in 42 states and Puerto Rico. According to Wikipedia, The number of streets named after King is increasing every year, and about 70% of these streets are in Southern states like Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas.
Dr. King changed the world as he took to the forefront of the Civil Rights movement. His efforts helped desegregate the south and pass legislature that finally afforded black people equal rights and privileges in society. In 2011 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial was built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Commemorating Dr. King. The centerpiece of the memorial is a 30-foot statue of Dr. King. His likeness is carved into the Stone of Hope, which emerges powerfully from two large boulders representing the Mountain of Despair. The Stone of Hope and the Mountain of Despair together represent “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
For a list of celebrations and demonstrations happening around the country today click HERE