Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King
Today, January 21, 2019, join us in honoring Dr. Martin Luther King. Signed into law in January 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, the national Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday is a celebration of Dr. King’s immeasurable contribution to the United States, and to humankind.
The “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr. before a crowd of some 250,000 people at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, remains one of the most famous speeches in history. Weaving in references to the country’s Founding Fathers and the Bible, King used universal themes to depict the struggles of African Americans, before closing with an improvised riff on his dreams of equality. The eloquent speech was immediately recognized as a highlight of the successful protest, and has endured as one of the signature moments of the civil rights movement.
The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom galvanized the civil rights movements and brought pressure on the national government to pass the Civil Rights Act, which was languishing in a divided Congress. More than 200,000 people of many different races attended the rally. In 2003, officials unveiled an inscription on the step where Dr. King stood while giving his speech.
Repeating the mantra, “I have a dream,” he offered up hope 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” and the desire to “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”
“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!'”
Today we honor a great American, Dr. Martin Luther King.