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Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Martin Luther King’

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

“Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers….Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Indeed, it is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964

Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (public domain)
via National Park Service

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a man who spent his life promoting nonviolent methods of social change to end segregation and discrimination and help African Americans gain their civil rights, was himself a victim of violence when he was assassinated outside his Memphis hotel room on the evening of April 4, 1968. Four days later, Michigan Congressman John Conyers introduced the first legislation providing for a Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday to honor King’s life and achievements. Dr. King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, headed the mission to rally popular support for a King Holiday. She worked for years, testifying before Congress, launching petition drives, and urging governors, mayors, and chairpersons of city councils across the U.S. to pass resolutions to honor her husband’s birthday on January 15.

While some individual states passed laws honoring Dr. King with a legal holiday, the idea of a federal holiday faced opposition and stirred controversy. Finally, in 1983, the legislation declaring the third Monday in January a federal legal holiday commemorating Dr. King’s birthday was signed by President Ronald Reagan. It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986, though many states continued to boycott the holiday. It was not until 1999 that New Hampshire became the last state to make it a paid state holiday.

The only federal holiday commemorating an African-American is now celebrated each year as a remembrance of Dr. King’s life and work, and with people joining together to honor the civil rights leader’s memory through volunteer service to make an impact on their local and global communities.

You can learn more about the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the King Holiday by visiting these websites, available through SIRS Issues Researcher:

Dr. Martin Luther King Day

The King Center

Martin Luther King Day of Service

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site

Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute

Fifty Years Ago: “I Have a Dream”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Delivering "I Have a Dream" Speech at the March on Washington

Fifty years ago on August 28, 1963 between 200,000 and 300,000 African Americans and supporters of civil rights converged on the nation’s capital at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Rallying for civil and economic rights, it became one of the foremost events in the modern civil rights movement.  At this landmark assembly Dr. Martin Luther King, standing on the Lincoln Memorial, delivered perhaps the most significant speech of the civil rights movement – “I Have a Dream.”

Marker on the Lincoln Memorial Commemoraing Dr. Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech

 I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment I still have a dream.
It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.”

eLibrary offers several reference books in which Dr. King’s speech and other noteworthy speeches from the civil rights era can be found.  American Heritage Book of Great American Speeches for Young People, Britannica Annals of American History and Vital Speeches of the Day are just three of these excellent resources.  Look for these titles directly under the Publications tab in eLibrary and then search the alphabetical listing to find the speech.  Another means to locate a specific speech within these titles and other reference works is to use Advanced Search.  Type in keywords from the speech you are searching in the Advanced Search box and then type in the publication title in the Publication Name field.  You can also search the title of the speech in the Document Title field along with searching the publication title in the Publication Name field.  Using Advanced Search will help narrow your search and get you the best results.

Historic speeches remind us of the good and the bad of our history.  Reading and researching historic speeches help us to better understand and form opinions about our nation’s history, its present and the future to come.