Today is the day that we remember an incredible American hero. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was and continues to be an inspiration to all of us, of the power of unity, racial justice, and how one person can impact an entire generation. Dr. King’s legacy is all-enduring and a reminder of how important these issues are. His movement and striving for equality and civil rights continues even today.
The Ever-Enduring Legacy Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was only 26 and a preacher at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, when his battle against racial injustice began. He led the effort of the Montgomery Bus Boycott following the arrest of Rosa Parks. His efforts and speeches led to a Supreme Court decision ordering Montgomery to integrate its bus system.
The boycott put Dr. King in the spotlight. Only two years later, he would be elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. His devotion to non-violent struggle would force the world to take notice, to listen to the voices of millions of Black Americans.
Dr. King’s fight and perseverance (often at risk to his own safety) are what led to the signing of The Civil Rights Act of 1964. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed this act into law. The Civil Rights Act of 1964: “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. “Provisions of this civil rights act forbade discrimination based on sex and race in hiring, promoting, and firing. The Act prohibited discrimination in public accommodations and federally funded programs. It also strengthened the enforcement of voting rights and the desegregation of schools.” The signing of this act brought a legal end to Jim Crow laws in the south, overturning Plessy vs. Ferguson.
The Civil Rights Act would eventually be expanded to bolster these constitutional rights by eliminating the poll tax and eliminating gender-based discrimination.
A Holiday in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed in honor of his birthday. After Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, civil rights leaders began a push to create a federal holiday in his honor. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law, and its observance began in 1986. Even outside the United States, in places like Canada, Japan, The Netherlands, and Israel, this holiday is observed every year.
There are many ways to celebrate this federal holiday named in Dr. King’s honor. The late Atlanta congressman John Lewis, who marched with Dr. King and former Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford, co-authored the King Holiday and Service Act. This act urges Americans to transform MLK Day into a day of service in the spirit of the late Dr. King. Since 1994, The Corporation for National and Community Service has coordinated this day of service. The government agency does so by providing grants to organizations that organize days of service on this holiday.
“Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love” -Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
MLK Day: The World Celebrates An American Hero
For all the incredible work of Dr. King during his fight for civil rights, there is so much to celebrate. And yet, there is still so much work to be done. That is why we at GrantWatch are so proud to have a category exclusively for Social Justice grants. With so many organizations working hard to continue the work of Dr. King, they need to have updated and detailed information about grants to apply for.
And there are many celebrations and events going on all around the country to honor the legacy of Dr. King:
Some events that are running On MLK DAY:
Also, IHeart Radio has put together a playlist for MLK Day, which includes many of Dr. King’s speeches, including his famous, “I have a Dream Speech. “