Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is on Monday, January 16, 2012.
must work unceasingly to uplift this nation that we love to a higher
destiny, to a higher plateau of compassion, to a more noble expression
Each year on the third Monday of January, schools, federal offices,
post office and banks across America close as we celebrate the birth,
the life and the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is a time for the nation to remember the injustices that Dr. King
fought. A time to remember his fight for the freedom, equality, and
dignity of all races and peoples. A time to remember the message of
change through nonviolence. Just as the theme of this page states:
"Rember, Celebrate, Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off!"
Although many people see this, and other holidays as "a day without
home work," or "a day to hang out with friends," it is
much more than that; it is the celebration of equality, the celebration
of freedom, and the celebration of a wonderful, wonderful man!
Why Do We Celebrate Martin Luther King Day?
I have not seen a more fitting description for why we celebrate this MLK Day, than on The
King Center, a wonderful organization that was established in 1968
by Mrs. Coretta Scott King as a living memorial dedicated to preserving
the legacy of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and promoting
the elimination of poverty, racism and war through research, education
and training in Kingian nonviolence. It goes as follows:
"The national holiday honoring Dr. King is an occasion
for joy and celebration for his life and his work toward nonviolent
social change in America and the world. Traditionally, we celebrate
holidays with parties, family picnics, fireworks, a trip back home or
to the seashore. However, we must also be mindful that this is a special
holiday - one which symbolizes our nation's commitment to peace through
justice; to universal brother- and sisterhood; and to the noblest ideal
of all: a democratic society based on the principles of freedom, justice
and equality for all people. Whether you celebrate Dr. King's birthday
on January 15th or during Black History Month, the holiday is an occasion
for thanksgiving, unselfishness, and rededicating ourselves to the causes
for which he stood and for which he died."
We encourage you to use this occasion as an opportunity
to enlist your community in helping us to establish a lasting, living
monument for honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. The King Center, the official
national and international memorial dedicated to Dr. King, invites you
to join us and thousands of people all over the world in creating a
permanent endowment for carrying on his unfinished work. Your "birthday
gift" to assist The King Center in this endeavor will assure that
Dr. King's memory lives on from generation to generation.
of Martin Luther King Day
15 years after Dr.
King's death President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law making the
third Monday of January a national holiday celebrating the birth and
life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
But it was a tough
time getting the bill passed
First a bill had
to be introduced by a member of the House of Representatives. The Speaker
of the House assigned the bill to a committee where the bill was discussed
in detail. Meetings were held where supporters and opposers could discuss
their positions. The committee then agreed that bill should be sent
to a vote. The Rules Committee scheduled a debate on the issue. The
House of Representatives then voted on the bill. It passed the House
with a vote of 338 to 90. Then it was sent to the Senate
Again the issue
of the King holiday had to pass through committees and public hearings
before a final vote was taken
There were many
who opposed the idea of holiday for Dr. King. America had only honored
two individuals with national holidays - George Washington and Christopher
Columbus. Many felt that there were other Americans that deserved a
national holiday, such as Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy
One barrier to the
confirmation was the Senator from Georgia who had denounced Dr. King
as a communist
Others feared the
King holiday was meant as a way to make up to African-Americans for
slavery. Other feared the cost of the holiday, with the extra overtime
paid to federal workers who had to work on the holiday as well as millions
to those federal employees who were paid for the day
Senator Bob Dole
pointed out to those critics '"I suggest they hurry back to
their pocket calculators and estimate the cost of 300 years of slavery,
followed by a century or more of economic, political and social exclusion
It took many years
for Congress to decide to celebrate the holiday. In the years leading
up to the official decree many African-Americans celebrated the birthday
themselves with a few states declaring King's birthday a state holiday.
The bill was finally passed by both the House of Representatives and
the Senate and was signed into law on November 2, 1983 The first
national celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday took
place January 20, 1986.
"A Day On Not A Day Off" - King Day of Service
The national Martin Luther King Day of Service was started by former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Harris Wofford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, who co-authored the King Holiday and Service Act. The federal legislation challenges Americans to transform the King Holiday into a day of citizen action volunteer service in honor of Dr. King. The federal legislation was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on August 23, 1994. Since 1996, the annual Greater Philadelphia King Day of Service has been the largest event in the nation honoring Dr. King.
Several other universities and organizations around the U.S., such as Arizona State University, Greater DC Cares and City Year, participate in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. In honor of MLK, volunteers across the country donate their time to make a difference on this day.
Copyright Info: This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.
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