Remembering MLK

Why Americans still honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

by Amanda Nguyen, Staff Writer

49 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Each year on the third Monday of every January, we celebrate the life and legacy of a man who brought hope to Americans.

We honor King’s motivating words because his words gave encouragement to our nation and brought peace throughout our land. On this holiday, many Americans celebrate a man of brave actions, a man who put his life on the line for freedom every day. A man who took threats, beatings and jail time to make sure Americans had equal rights. This holiday recognizes King’s contributions to America’s justice and equality, the hopes of a leader who only dreamed of an equal society.

During King’s life, he led nonviolent marches and sit-ins to stand up for liberties for everyone. In 1963, he led his massive march in Washington to deliver his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. His speech led to the ratification of the 24th amendment which abolished the poll tax and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited racial discrimination in education and employment in the public. At age 35, King became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. After he won the prize, he handed the prize money to the civil rights movement.

Working side by side with her husband throughout the 1950s and ‘60s, Coretta Scott King took part in working to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 along with other civil rights work. After her husband’s death in 1968, she continued their work and founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. She fought for 15 years to have her husband’s birthday instituted as a national holiday until President Ronald Reagan signed the bill in 1983. She is remembered for her brave work in civil rights in the United States. She has been an inspiration to many over the last few decades even after her death in 2006.

On this day, we honor Dr. King’s dream of a multiracial nation with peace, justice and reconcile. A dream that has a place for children of every race together as a united whole. Not only do we honor this holiday, but we also celebrate the values of equality in general. Dr. King taught that whether you are African-American, Native-American, Asian, Hispanic or Caucasian, you are part of his dream for America. He taught that this is not just a black holiday; it’s an everyone holiday. It is up to our generation to carry out his dream no matter what race and or religion we are.