It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t celebrated this day in the past in any meaningful way. If anything, it was a day off work.
But this year, I wanted to know more and not just treat this as a day “off.” I wanted to learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK), one of our most inspiring leaders, and I wanted to learn the real meaning of this holiday.
The King Center shares an inspirational and moving piece on the meaning of the holiday written by Coretta Scott King. I especially love the reminder that MLK “taught by his example that nonviolent action is the most powerful, revolutionary force for social change . . .” Something we can remember for our world today.
After doing a bit of research, here are just a few things I found out about MLK and this holiday:
- MLK’s birthday is January 15. We celebrate MLK Day on the third Monday of January due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. (Yep, that’s a real law. Check it out.)
- Over 100 countries honor him in some way during this month. There is even a street named after him in Jerusalem.
- Just four days after MLK was assassinated, Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced legislation for a federal holiday honoring MLK. It took 30 years for MLK Day to legally become a national holiday, finally signed into law in 1983.
- It wasn’t until the year 2000 (yes, only 16 years ago) that ALL 50 states legally recognized Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The last five states to follow the law: Arizona, New Hampshire, Virginia, Utah, and South Carolina.
- He was 35-years-old when he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He donated all of his prize money to the Civil Rights Movement.
- Bob Dylan and Joan Baez performed a duet before MLK took the podium to deliver his famous “I Have a Dream Speech.”