Story and infographic by Kevin S. Abel
On January 16, Americans will honor and celebrate the life of one of our most respected leaders and vital figures of the modern era civil rights movements, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
During this day of celebration, we should be honoring the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to our Nation and honor the values he exemplified in his life.
We must not forget his teachings of courage, truth, respect, integrity, humility, and service. These same values are what make the United States Military and our country strong.
The Martin Luther King – Day of Service is part of President Barack Obama’s national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
A key focus has been to connect the holiday observance to long term efforts having a lasting impact on six critical national issues: education; veterans and military families; environmental stewardship; disaster preparedness; economic opportunity and healthy futures.
King is best known for his central role in the American Civil Rights Movement as the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism. He devoted his life to advancing equality, social justice and opportunity for all Americans.
While serving as a Pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, King was an instrumental leader in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, made famous by the nonviolent resistance and arrest of Rosa Parks.
In 1959 King resigned from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church to move back to Atlanta to direct the activities of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
From 1960 until his death in 1968, he also served as co-pastor with his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church where he had gotten his start in ministry.
King was arrested 30 times for his participation in civil rights activities.
King was shot while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee and died on April 4, 1968. He had gone to Memphis to help lead sanitation workers in a protest against low wages and intolerable working conditions.
After King’s death, Senator Edward Brooke and RepresentativeJohn Conyers introduced a bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a national holiday.
The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. Public pressure for the holiday mounted during the 1982 and 1983 civil rights marches in Washington but a er a long struggle, legislation was signed into law in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan.
In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service. Taking place each year on the third Monday in January, the MLK Day of Service is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service — a “day on, not a day off.”
His lectures and speeches stirred the concern and sparked the conscience of a generation. His charismatic style of leadership inspired people, young and old, not just in the United States but around the world.
In his iconic speech delivered August, 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. for Jobs and Freedom, King urged America to “make real the promises of democracy” and the necessity for change and potential for hope in American society.
Listen to his speech at http://bit.ly/ Audio-MLK-Dream.
Each year, Americans answer one of King’s famous questions: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?,” by coming together to serve their neighbors and communities.
The observance of MLK Day provides the Stuttgart Community with not only an opportunity to celebrate King’s contributions to our country, but to reflect on the strength in our commitment to service and each other.
People of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities can get involved with local volunteer opportunities in the community or plan your own project.