The Importance of Martin Luther King Day

I HAVE A DREAM -- Martin Luther King gave many hope-sparking speeches throughout his time.

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I HAVE A DREAM -- Martin Luther King gave many hope-sparking speeches throughout his time.

Sam Helmholtz, Staff Writer

This year, Martin Luther King day took place on January 15. It takes place on the third Monday of January each year, celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday. Being a federal holiday, schools are allowed the day off. However, this day is about more than just a reprieve from school. This day is a celebration of a man who worked tirelessly to push against racism and injustice.

“It’s not just a free day out of school. It recognizes a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement, which gave minorities opportunities they wouldn’t have been given,” mused Jazmynn Ball, a sophomore.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born in 1929 on January 15 in Atlanta, Georgia. He obtained a degree in theology from Boston University and was a baptist minister. In his life, he forced the issue of segregation into the minds of the citizens of the United States and became and staple figure in the Civil Rights Movement. After Rosa Parks, another extremely influential person in the Civil Rights Movement, refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, King worked with the African American community to boycott public transport. With others, he formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1957. Their mission was to conduct non violent protests to combat racial issues prevalent in society. He was also one of six people to organize the 1963 March on Washington, giving minorities the chance to press their concerns to the capital of the country. This was expressed in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech he gave at the event.

Martin Luther King preached nonviolence and refused to participate in any action that would cause harm or destruction. His goal was to raise the consciousness of racism and to put an end to racial discrimination and segregation in the U.S. He strove to find and invoke racial equality. Though his methods were focused on avoiding violence, they were still often faced with brutal oppositions by white supremacists such as the Ku Klux Klan. As a result, King was arrested a total of 30 times in his lifetime, and was ultimately assassinated in 1968.

“Throughout history, black people have been overlooked, so it’s important to not forget to recognize people like him who have contributed to the progress of America,” Jazmynn Ball vocalized.

King’s nonviolent approaches still impact many events that take place in modern day such as speeches, boycotts, and marches. Though he was faced with extreme opposition, his actions lead to significant civil rights laws being placed, and advocacy for poverty and worker’s rights. Even today, he still lights a passionate flame under those searching for solutions to national issues still seen today.

“His writings, and words spoken in his speeches, are masterpieces,” mentioned Mr. Seals, a U.S. History teacher, ” and his use of words have moved people to action for decades.”

While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a gigantic stepping stone in providing rights to those discriminated against, some issues still remain today. People of color, still today, are often marginalized. Positions of power are primarily held by rich, white men. People of color are more often arrested and blamed for crimes that have little evidence convicting them. These are only a select few examples. Judgment and discrimination, while certainly less that King’s time, are still significant issues today,

“It is important to call attention to MLK because his ‘dream’ has not totally come to fruition,” Mr. Seals articulated, “There are still many people, not just African Americans, who are not being judged simply by the content of their character.”

Today, the MLK national memorial resides in Atlanta, Georgia. His burial site is located there, along with his childhood home and the church he preached in are located nearby. He was, and continues to be, a symbol of peace and hope for those who aren’t treated equally. He represents that you need not be violent to achieve a goal, and that persistence and togetherness can accomplish seemingly monsterous tasks.

“When I think of MLK,, I think of peace and family. If we come together for something, we can achieve our goals,” Jazmynn Ball pronounced.