The Apache Pow Wow

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ashley Lee, Staff Writer

On Aug. 28, 1963, the nation listened with open ears and hearts as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. shared his vision and future for the country. His famous “I Have a Dream” speech resonated not only throughout the U.S., but across the world, and changed history for decades to come. Dr. King’s life was dedicated to the Civil Rights Movement, speaking out against inequality and injustice. In 1964, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance against racial prejudice and persistent civil rights engagement, all which helped bring America to be one which practiced equality.

Although we observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day each year, the road to creating this national holiday was not a smooth one. Just like his work in achieving a nation of equality was tough, it was equally a struggle in passing this official holiday. The legislation to officiate this day wasn’t signed by President Ronald Reagan until 15 years after King’s assassination. The first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was observed in January 1986.

To this day, we continue to recognize and honor Dr. King, an American hero. Each year, the nation celebrates his birthday on the third Monday in January. It is a time for reflection and service. The slogan, “A Day On, Not a Day Off” was coined in the 1960s to promote the importance of taking action on this national holiday. Nonprofit organizations commemorate this leader through service opportunities, just as Dr. King had. Such activities include benefiting the homeless by providing meals and donating goods to schools in need. The 500 U.S. national parks are also open for free admission in honor of this federal holiday, in particular so that people can visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Georgia or the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C., where he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech to a crowd of 250,000. Parades and various other celebrations are also held to remember his life.

In our own city of Los Angeles, the California African American Museum held their annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, hosting workshops and lectures to educate the public about this holiday. There was also an Annual Walk for Peace in Washington, D.C., as well as other marches in Florida and Texas.

With this year marking the 50th anniversary since his assassination, activists are determined to see how the country will progress in the next 50 years. As such, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis are focusing their actions and efforts towards the next half century.


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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.