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    • Martin Luther King Jr. Day



      Every year since 1986, on the first Monday between January 15th and 21st, we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

      On January 15th, 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. Son of Martin Luther King Sr., a Baptist minister and an early figure on the civil rights movement, and Alberta Williams King. He was the second of the couple's three children. Since his early teenage years, Dr. King, as he would later be known, felt and struggled with racial discrimination, creating an internal conflict and questioning his strictly Baptist upbringing. Also, during his teens years in high school, MLK soon discovered as talents as a public speaker, winning oratorical contests.

      Dr. King graduated from Morehouse College with a Bachelor of Arts when 19 years old and later earned his Ph.D. from Boson University in 1955 while following his father's footsteps as a Baptist minister.

      Also, in 1955, MLK's prominence started to grow amidst the Civil Rights Movement, with central roles at the Montgomery bus boycott, which led to a bombing of his house, and the fight against the infamous Jim Crow laws. For the next 13 years, Dr. King would act as one of the most important and celebrated figures of the Civil Rights Movement, having decisive roles in several high profile events, such as the Birmingham Movement (1963), the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963) where MLK delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, the Selma to Montgomery March (1965), the Chicago Freedom Movement (1966) and the Poor People's Campaign (1968).


      Martin Luther King Jr. at the signing of the Civil Right sAct of 1964

      In 1964, Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. Despite that, from 1963 onwards, MLK was one of the targets of the illegal COINTELPRO from J.Edgar Hoover's FBI. On April 4th, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, James Earl Ray, a former US Army soldier and fugitive from the Missouri State Penitentiary, shot and killed Martin Luther King Jr.


      Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X during their only meeting

      Despite being murdered at only 39 years old, MLK made a significant impact on the Civil Rights Movement and fought his whole life to bring the racial struggle that still exists today in the United States and other social matters to the public's consciousness. He didn't travel this path and fought this battle alone, with many great other men and women standing by his side at the trenches, such as Malcolm X, Muhamad Ali, and Rosa Parks and inspired thousand others in the future generations.

      "When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
      It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.
      But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.
      There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
      But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
      We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: for whites only.
      We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.
      No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
      I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
      I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
      I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
      I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.
      And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, Black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last."

      Excerpts from "I Have a Dream" speech - Martin Luther King Jr.

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