Martin Luther King & Black History
By Senior Airman Keshia Corpuz, 21st Force Support Squadron
/ Published January 15, 2018
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The year is 1963. Thousands of people are marching together in Washington, D.C. to participate in the nationwide struggle for civil rights and equality. Police officials and national guardsman stood alongside the march to mitigate the potential violence.
Prior to this organized march, there were instances of segregation and inequality throughout the states. People of color were viewed as inferior to the white population, and lived segregated, such as separate seats, water fountains, and dining areas. Thus, it was time to end the era of separation.
During the march, Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the Lincoln Memorial, and delivered the speech that changed the view of segregation. In his well-known "I Have a Dream" speech, he states, "I have a dream 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." This single leader had a vision that affected the movement in unity, justice, and equality for years to come.
Martin Luther King Jr. became a prominent leader during the civil rights movement and was assassinated in 1968. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan officially signed MLK day as a national holiday. It wasn't observed until 1986, and now it's celebrated every third Monday in January.
The day celebrates his achievements and accomplishments during a time of injustice and inequality. It also acknowledges him as an influential leader and played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement. Each year, most states hold events that commemorates his birthday with a parade or marches, special MLK weekend events, and various school activities. Some places participate in community services projects that helps address issues within the community and some have taken MLK tours of his birthplace and assassination.
MLK day has become more than just a government closure or national holiday, it's a day to celebrate his empowerment.