Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is January 16, and it is a day that recognizes one of the most influential leaders in civil rights. According to the National Archives, the “cornerstones of his activism were based on non-violence and civil disobedience, both of which were inspired by his Christian faith and the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.”
Dr. King campaigned for civil rights through nonviolent resistance, and he and his supporters conducted sit-ins, organized marches, and peaceful demonstrations. His intent was to bring attention to inequality in the United States and create significant social change.
The National Archives also notes that Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. Later in the 1960s, Dr. King focused his efforts on poverty, capitalism and the Vietnam War. After his assassination in 1968, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal for his contributions to American society.
[Related article: MLK Day: Comparing Dr. King with Other Civil Rights Leaders]
How to Commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Congress designated Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a holiday in 1986, and the third Monday of every January now serves as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. But unlike other federal holidays that serve as a day off for Americans, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is intended as a day of service and a chance to reflect on the contributions Dr. King made in fighting for equal rights.
It also serves as a day to display humanity toward others and continue his legacy of social justice by serving people. That work can include volunteering for one’s community, according to the federal government.
As Dr. King once said, we should “make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a better person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”
According to Points of Light, millions of people serve on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, performing helpful acts at schools, local shelters, and other locations in their communities. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is also celebrated through parades and neighborhood community service events. Other ways to observe this day include supporting Black-owned businesses and visiting museums to learn about Dr. King’s legacy.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a way for communities to grow closer together. His contributions to the civil rights movement continue today, and we should recognize all of them.
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