Celebrating Martin Luther King Day: Remembering his fight to equality

Foran Journalism and history department visited the MLK Jr. monument in 2019.  Photo courtesy, citizen in D.C. November 2019.

Foran Journalism and history department visited the MLK Jr. monument in 2019. Photo courtesy, citizen in D.C. November 2019.

Alexandrea Velez and Nicole Jones

     January 18 is a day to celebrate and honor Martin Luther King Jr. for sparking a revolution. The holiday is observed on the third Monday in January every year. 

     Martin Luther King Jr., was a well known social activist that fought for racial injustice. King was a large promoter of peaceful protest to spread his message.

     After getting physically harmed in a 1958 assassination attempt, King stated, “The experience of these last few days has deepened my faith in the relevance of the spirit of nonviolence, if necessary social change is peacefully to take place.”

     During King’s lifetime he faced a large amount of physical harm due to the beliefs he was fighting for. This was not only regarding King but all people of color faced danger when fighting for their rights and equality.

     During this time, in 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery bus for a white passenger.  This created a protest and boycott for the Montgomery bus company. 

     The Montgomery bus boycott lasted for 381 days, and had an extreme economic impact on the transit system, according to History.com.  King was chosen to be the official spokesperson for both the boycott and the 1963 March in Washington D.C. This was when King gave his “I have a dream” speech. 

     In this speech he stated, “This nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

     This speech is known to spread ideas of equality and due to this speech King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

     During this time, the Supreme Court gave a ruling on the Rosa Parks case. Due to the large amount of protests and the attention the public gave to King’s speech, they ruled segregated seating on a public bus is unconstitutional. This ruling had a large impact on society and greatly impacted people of color. 

     The November 1956 landmark ruling stated that segregation on public transportation is illegal. This ruling affected landmark legislation such as the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. This court case created precedent for all the other court cases to come after it, and it helped people of color gain rights. 

     History teacher Mr. Todd Williams says, “It shows the world can change for the better through peace and without hatred. Understanding everyone’s feelings will lead to change in behavior.” 

     Despite King’s progress in the social reform movement, many people disagreed with his values and saw his progress as unconstitutional. In 1968, King was assassinated due to this very reason, however due to his progressive reforms Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a federal holiday ever since 1986.   

     On this day individuals give speeches, participate in workshops, and students get the day off. Due to the pandemic, all 2021 celebrations will be completed virtually across all social media platforms. A complication of online celebrations for King include,  Martin Luther King Jr. Day Virtual Forum given by the University of Lipscomb on January 19, 6:30-8:30 p.m. and the Virtual: United States Coast Guard Band  will perform in tribute on January 18,2021 at 7pm, admission free. 

     During his last few years King stated, “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”