Martin Luther King Jr. Day: A Holiday of Remembrance

Libby Dunne, Staff Writer

Martin Luther King Jr. day is on Monday, Jan. 20, and Miramonte students are excited to have the day off school. While students are making fun plans for this three day weekend, they may forget about the man whom this holiday was made for: Martin Luther King Jr.


King was a civil rights activist in the mid 1900’s. He used nonviolent tactics in attempt to give African-American people at the time the rights they deserve. King was inspired by the success of Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent protests in India, and after taking an inspiring trip to India in 1959, decided to use similar techniques in the fight for racial equality in the United States.


King was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1930’s. King attended a racially segregated school, and graduated high school at age 15, skipping both the ninth and twelfth grades. He then attended Morehouse College, and later, Boston University, where he earned his Ph. D.


One of King’s famous nonviolent protests was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King delivered his most famous speech, “I Have a Dream”. While presenting his acclaimed speech, King discussed his goals for the United States in regard to equality and civil rights.


At age 35, King won the Nobel Peace Prize in Oct. 1964 for fighting racial inequality nonviolently. This made him the youngest recipient of this honorary award. King decided to use the prize money of $54,123 to help the civil rights movement.


Not only was King a very influential civil rights activist, but he also used his nonviolent techniques to help fight poverty and the Vietnam War.


On April 4, 1968, King was shot, while standing on the balcony of his Tennessee motel room after delivering the final speech of his life. King was planning to lead a nonviolent march on Memphis in support of striking sanitation workers, though he had already tried and failed to the same march just one month earlier. There were many riots all over the United States in the days following his assassination.


President Lyndon B. Johnson soon declared April 7th, King’s birthday, as a national holiday, in honor of the notorious civil rights leader. Before his untimely death, King requested that at his funeral, there was no mention of his awards, and instead mention the fact that he was planning to do much more in his life in respect to making the planet a better place.


So on this holiday weekend, keep in mind who the holiday was made for, and how he made sacrifices to fight for what he believed in.