Diversity Spotlight

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

January 15, 2018

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. The day commemorates the timeless values he taught us through his example — the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a social activist and Baptist minister who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. King sought equality and human rights for African Americans, the economically disadvantaged and all victims of injustice through peaceful protest. He was the driving force behind watershed events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington, which helped bring about such landmark legislation as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. His “I Have a Dream” speech, which is now considered to be among the great speeches of American history, is frequently quoted. 

King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and is remembered each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a U.S. federal holiday since 1986.

A monument to Dr. King was unveiled in the national capital in 2012. Powerful quotes are inscribed on the monument including, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.


As the holiday is celebrated, Clayborne Carson, founding director of the King Institute, professor of history at Stanford University and author of Martin’s Dream, has some suggestions about how parents should teach their children about King. “If you put someone on a pedestal, they you can’t really be like them,” Carson told TIME. “But if you realize that he was a human being just like the rest of us, who was caught up in a great movement and did extraordinary things, then people begin to understand that they can do extraordinary things, too.”

 

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