Every year on the third Monday of January we remember and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. Observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, and falling this year on January 20th again, Americans might not see this holiday as a day off, but as an opportunity to reflect, take action and demand equal opportunities to people of all races.
Born on January 15, Martin Luther King Jr. grew up to become the most visible spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and his Christian beliefs, King peacefully fought against segregation and organized marches and protests to secure progress on civil rights in the U.S. His activism made him the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize for successfully combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance and was awarded for his “exceptional advancement of the principles of human liberty” by the American Jewish Committee. Bestowed with 50 honorary degrees from colleges and universities and a Margaret Sanger Award for “his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity,” by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, plus other multiple posthumous awards, King became the voice of the voiceless, and like former President Jimmy Carter once said, “Martin Luther King Jr. was the conscience of his generation.”
Known as the leader of all people, Martin Luther King Jr.’s influential decisions and actions benefited the African American community and in his long list of accomplishments, we can mention the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the unforgettable March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in which over 250,000 people rallied for human rights. The gathering, which took place in Washington, D.C. on August 28, 1963, opened the door to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
During the rally, Dr. King delivered one of the most powerful, memorable and revered speeches in the English language in a stage called by himself as “the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” In the “I Have a Dream” public speech, Martin Luther King Jr. refers to the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and talks about the Emancipation Proclamation and how all three outlined the rights of black men and women as well as white.
In his cry, the Atlanta native raised awareness about segregation and racial injustice and demanded the government to make real the promises. “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children,” he said.
This fearless man with wonderful leadership skills also used his influence to travel any place where injustice against African Americans was occurring. His dream of unifying the masses is a constant battle today; therefore, we must immerse ourselves with courage and determination and continue his fight. Find below 20 of the most inspiring quotes by Dr. King.
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!