January 20th, 2020
I love this picture. It reminds me that Martin Luther King Jr. was a man with a wife and children. A man with hope and a future…
As the eve of our Martin Luther King Jr. holiday approaches, I wonder how my oldest son spent the day now that he’s away at school in Phoenix. While Arizona was one of the last states to recognize the Martin Luther King holiday in 1992, they were pressured to do so after losing the 1993 Super Bowl site and a potential $250 million in revenue. The fight for Martin Luther King holiday spanned two decades.
During our home school years, both my husband and I took the time to make Martin Luther King Day special, relevant, and a teaching opportunity rather than just a day off. As Dr. King would have turned 91 on January 15th, I find an increasing number of our youth have no idea who he was, what he stood for, and why or how Martin Luther King Day came to be. This saddens me. I decided to write 10 of the most compelling things in my studies about the man, message, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
History of Martin Luther King Day
- While former President Ronald Reagan would sign the bill in November of 1983, Martin Luther King Day was initially proposed in 1968 four days after his assassination. 1986 would be the first year Martin Luther King Day is recognized and celebrated.
- It would take a petition led by his wife, Coretta Scott King, and the support of Stevie Wonder and U2 (among others) to gather momentum and a national collective voice in support of Martin Luther King Day. Over 6 million Americans would sign the petition.
- Stevie Wonder’s, “Happy Birthday,” released in 1981 was a pivotal political move. Stevie risk popularity, criticism, and sales. He did it nonetheless; there was a greater good at stake.
- In 2000, South Carolina would be one of the last states to embrace Martin Luther Luther Day and pay their employees. This was 17 years after the bill was passed.
- To understand the Reverend is to embrace a philosophy of love. Listen to his speeches and study his quotes. Dr. King was driven by you and me, we were all his brothers and sisters. He longed to see us thrive. King was not afraid to join us in our suffering and fight for a better day.
- While “I Have a Dream,” remains the speech Dr. King is remembered for as it captures his hopes for our nation, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” gives us a glimpse of his heart. Dr. King delivered his Mountaintop speech on April 3rd, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee the night before his assassination. Not only was this his final speech but Martin’s heart for the Lord and commitment to doing His will were delivered with intense clarity.
- Dr. King had premonitions of his death.
- Before Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, he was there supporting the Sanitation Worker’s Strike; workers were seeking safer working conditions, payment for overtime, and basic humane treatment.
- We must never forget that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of the cloth. Dr. King was a man of God. Every quote, every speech, King’s dreams, his hopes, and his will to fight were all in full and complete alignment with the Holy Scriptures.
- Lastly, Dr. King fought for me and my children. He fought for you and your children. He fought for those that could not fight for themselves. He fought for what was right. He fought for love.
Dr. King was not perfect. None of us are. He made mistakes. We all do. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that his heart’s desire was to live and walk with his neighbors in such a way that was pleasing to our Lord.
I choose to strive to live similarly … not only on the 3rd Monday in January of each year, but every day I am given. I will never be able to thank Dr. King personally, but I can and will express my gratitude by speaking against injustice, involving myself in matters even when they do not effect me directly, and fight for the rights of the oppressed.
I pray for our country, leaders, families, neighbors, and youth – may we all love hard, dream big, and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
“Life begins to end the day we are silent about the things that matter.” MLK
Happy Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
- This is the absolute best documentary done on the man, Martin Luther King, and the days prior to his assassination: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGGAmysR0AE
- This is a good resource for rich MLK quotes: https://parade.com/252644/viannguyen/15-of-martin-luther-king-jr-s-most-inspiring-motivational-quotes/
- This article does a fantastic job outlining the history of Martin Luther Day: https://constitutioncenter.org/blog/how-martin-luther-king-jr-s-birthday-became-a-holiday-3