January 17, 2023
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
Today we honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., a great man who changed the world. Dr. King was an American Baptist minister and activist. During the less than 13 years of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s leadership of the modern American Civil Rights Movement, from December 1955 until April 4, 1968, African Americans achieved more genuine progress towards racial equality in America than the previous 350 years had produced. Inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi, he led targeted, nonviolent resistance against Jim Crow laws and other forms of discrimination. Dr. King is widely regarded as one of the greatest nonviolent leaders in world history.
Dr. King was named after Protestant reformer Martin Luther. He skipped two grades and entered college at the age of 15. He enrolled in Boston University’s doctoral program and was awarded his Ph.D. at the age of 25. During his activism, King was arrested 29 times. His charges ranged from civil disobedience to traffic violations. On September 20, 1958, Dr. King survived an assassination attempt. The stab wound narrowly missed King’s heart.
On October 14, 1964, Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize two of the three Selma to Montgomery marches. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty, capitalism, and the Vietnam War. Dr. King’s nonviolent leadership ended abruptly and tragically on April 4, 1968, when he was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. His funeral ceremony was attended by high-level leaders of all races and political stripes.
Martin Luther King Day was established as a holiday in cities and states throughout the United States beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.