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Martin Luther King Jr. Day History, Facts & Resources

Sunnie BeeMartin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January. It commemorates the birthday of this great preacher and Civil Rights Activist.

Martin Luther King Liberty BellDr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia. King, a Baptist Preacher and American Civil Rights Leader, preached non-violence and worked to bring about social, political and economic equality for African-American citizens. His eloquent pleas for racial justice in the 1950's and 1960's won the support of millions of people both black and white. He won the Nobel Peace prize in 1964 for leading the black struggle for equality through non-violence.

Dr. King rejected separatism and campaigned against poverty. He married Coretta Scott in 1953 and began his Civil Rights Crusade in 1955. He boycotted, marched, preached and conducted sit-in demonstrations in the pursuit of racial equality. Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 partly because of these efforts. He built a program of non-violence by combining Christian teachings, Thoreau's social ideas and Gandhi methods of non-violence. His life was constantly in danger. He was stabbed in New York City, stoned in Chicago and assassinated on April 4, 1968 by James Earl Ray.

August 28, 1963 Dr. King marched from the Washington monument to the Lincoln Memorial and delivered one of his most memorable speeches.

Martin Luther King Giving Speech

"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."

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, posthumously in 1977 for his efforts in fighting prejudice. And in 1986 The United States Congress established a national holiday to honor Doctor King. It is held the third Monday in January.

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