Saturday, January 16, 2021 Ayesha Hawkins

Every year the City of Arlington joins cities across the country to participate in the MLK Day of Service on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This year the program and events are virtual but are still focused on walking the dream that Dr. King placed before the United States and the world.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. His first name was originally Michael, but it was later changed to Martin. He graduated high school at the age of 15 and went on to receive a Bachelor of Arts in 1948 from Morehouse College following the tradition of his father and grandfather. He received a Bachelor of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania in 1951 and a doctorate in 1955 from Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts. While in Boston, King met Coretta Scott and they married in 1953.  King was named Senior Pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church of Montgomery Alabama. Keeping with family tradition he would later become a co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia with his father in 1960.

King is probably most known for his work in advancing civil rights in the United States of America, especially in the southern states. He helped to organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, he was a founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, and the use of nonviolent methods of protest. Two of King’s most famous cultural memories are his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech, given in Washington, D.C. in 1963. Because of King’s commitment to nonviolence, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

In 1965, King led the famous march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery where he delivery a rousing speech to pressure President Lyndon B. Johnson into signing the 1965 Voting Act. In 1968, King would give his final speech “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” on April 3. The next day on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee while standing on a hotel balcony King was assassinated.  In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the federal holiday honoring King. By 2000, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day would be celebrated in all 50 states.

In 1994, to continue King’s legacy of service Congress, with the support of President Bill Clinton, created Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service; it is considered a “day on, not a day off.” 

Click here to learn more about the City of Arlington’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Four Day Celebration!

Check Out these items in our collection about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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