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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
By Sarah Lane, Cynthia Kirkeby
Jan 21, 2008, 14:00 PST

Martin Luther King Jr.
January 15th, 1929 - April 3rd, 1968
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Each year on the third Monday in January, we observe the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Born in Atlanta, Georgia, King was raised by his parents to treat others with respect, no matter their color.  As he grew older he began to realize whites and blacks were treated differently in, and by, society.  His ultimate goal was to change that fact.

Educated Leader     
King attended the Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and studied important historical figures such as Mahatma Gandhi and Henry David Thoreau.  At college he met Coretta Scott, who he would later marry.  In 1954, at age 25, King received his PhD and was thereafter known as Dr. King.  After receiving his PhD, he became a pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.  In 1957 he became president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  In 1959 he went to India with his wife and studied, in great detail, Satyagraha.  This was Gandhi's principle of non-violent persuasion, which Dr. King incorporated into his teachings.  He then wrote his first book called, “Stride Toward Freedom” which was highly successful.

Voice of Freedom
On the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, August 28th, 1963, Dr. King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech.  It was in front of the Lincoln Memorial and over 200,000 people were present.  This famous speech engrained itself into the hearts and minds of the American people.  At age 35, in 1964, he became the youngest man, 2nd American and 3rd black man to win the Nobel Peace Prize.  He divided the $54,000 he received among different civil rights organizations.  That same year, president Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law.  Soon thereafter, on August 6th, 1965, a voting rights bill was passed giving African Americans the right to vote.  The impact Dr. King had in motivating these events into action is immeasurable.

Beloved Icon
Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his very last speech on April 3rd, 1968. The following day, while standing on the balcony of his hotel room, he was shot and killed.  Dr. King wasn't afraid to put his life on the line for his beliefs.  He was arrested 30 times for participation in civil rights activities yet received hundreds of honorary degrees from around the world.  His was a global presence and the world mourns his death every year while at the same time honoring him for the enormous impact he had on American History.
Source: Inc & Stanford University

MLK Day of Service Toolkit

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is a way for people to honor the memory of his teachings by giving back to the community. This may take the form of fixing up a school or community center, celebrating the principals of equality, or reaching out to the underprivileged.

Download the MLK Day of Service Toolkit (570K PDF). The MLK Day of Service Toolkit helps you develop a service project of your own.

For more information on the MLK Day of Service, please visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service site, and check their Service Project Sites.

Suggested Reading on Martin Luther King Jr.

Suggested Films on Martin Luther King Jr.

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