Martin Luther King Jr Day is a federal holiday in the United States marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr, which falls on January 15.
It is observed on the third Monday of January each year.
Who is Martin Luther King Jr?
Born Jan. 15, 1929, in Atlanta, King began preaching as a Baptist minister in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1954.
His message of nonviolent civil disobedience and love, delivered through powerful speeches and writings, shaped the character of the movement.
He led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott against the policy of racial segregation in the Alabama city’s public transit system.
In 1963, he delivered his iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, calling for an end to racism.
On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance.
Archbishop Iakovos, Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America, marched with the civil rights leader in Selma, Alabama in 1965.
This historic moment was captured in a photograph on the cover of LIFE Magazine on March 26, 1965.
The New York Times reported, “The striking cover of Time magazine that showed Dr. King side by side with the black-garbed Archbishop Iakovos marked a new presence of Greek-Americans and the Greek Orthodox church in American life.”
In his final years, King expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty, capitalism, and the Vietnam War.
In 1968, he was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee.
The real anniversary of King’s birthday was Friday, but a federal holiday signed into law in 1983 sets aside the third Monday of each January to observe his birthday.
The US holiday is typically commemorated with marches, speeches, lectures and musical programs. Unfortunately events did not occur this year due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a chance to celebrate the life and achievements of the late civil rights leader. It’s also an opportunity to recommit to better understanding and combating systemic racism and oppression.