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January 16, 2012


Today is a national holiday in the United States in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 15 (observed on the 3rd Monday each January).

                   MLK, Jr. Memorial
                    Washington, D.C.
        Photo by John White (2011)

Dr. King was the leader of the civil rights movement of the 1950s & 1960s.

According to Dr. King’s son, Dexter, his father was inspired by God & acquired his technique from Gandhi.

6 million signatures were acquired on the petition to create the MLK holiday, the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history according to The Nation.

The bill itself was introduced by Representative John Conyers (D-Michigan) & Senator Ed Brooke (R-Massachusetts).

It passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 338-90 & the Senate by a vote of 78-22.

President Ronald Reagan signed the bill creating the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on November 2, 1983.  The holiday was 1st observed on January 20, 1986.

            President Ronald Reagan
 Signs Act Creating Dr. King Holiday
          Coretta Scott King (far left)
      Howard H. Baker, Jr. (far right)*
                     November 2, 1983
                   White House Photo

*Former Tennessee Senator who served as President Reagan’s Chief of Staff

MLK Jr. Day is observed in Hiroshima, Japan where Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba holds a banquet to unify the city’s call for peace with Dr. King’s message of equal rights.

Toronto, Canada also observes MLK Jr. Day.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born just after noon on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia.

King was born in an upstairs bedroom at 501 Auburn Avenue.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthplace
                501 Auburn Avenue
                   Atlanta, Georgia
         Photo by John White (2008)

King’s maternal grandfather, A.D. Williams,  had been pastor of nearby Ebenezer Baptist Church since 1914.

“It was in the surroundings of home, church & neighborhood that King experienced family, Christian love, segregation, diligence & tolerance.”

King was actually named after his father, Rev. Michael King at birth but his father later changed his name to Martin Luther King, Sr. in honor of the German protestant religious leader, Martin Luther. So Michael King, Jr. changed his as well.

MLK, Jr. had 2 siblings, older sister Willie Christine & younger brother Alfred Daniel Williams King.

      Beck Cultural Center Display
              Knoxville, Tennessee

As a 15 year old student at Morehouse College, King was described as unmotivated, questioning of religion in general & uncomfortable with overly emotional displays of religious worship. 

In his senior year, however, King was a serious student who had decided to follow his father’s footsteps & enter the ministry.*

*Source: http://www.biography.com

“In this place (Dr. King) will stand for all time….a black preacher with no official rank or title who…gave voice to our deepest dreams & our most lasting ideals.”

President Barack Obama

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

The Rev. Martin Luther King
American civil rights leader**

**Source: Knoxville News Sentinel, Editorial Page, Jan. 16, 2012

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