Today, January 18, 2021, is the 26th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK), the Civil Rights leader’s life. You can participate today by listening to the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, reading through our MLK facts and participating in actions to fully honor his legacy.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “I Have a Dream” Speech – 1963

MLK Facts

  1. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was initiated by Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a city bus for a white person and her subsequent arrest, and led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr (MLK).The boycott lasted 385 days and ended with a Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses was unconstitutional. During this time, MLK was arrested, his home was bombed and he was subjected to personal threats and abuse.
  2. MLK was the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference – an organization that played a significant role in the American Civil Rights Movement
  3. MLK was instrumental in organizing the Great March on Washington in 1963.  Over 250,000 people participated and it was a stepping stone to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  It was during this march that Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech which is considered a defining moment in the American Civil Rights Movement.
  4. Martin Luther King was named Time Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1963. He was recognized as a leader who fought to bring equality in America and was the first African American to be recognized with this honor.
  5. MLK’s efforts related to voting rights for Black Americans, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights were enacted into law when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Voting Rights Act were passed.
  6. MLK received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for leading non-violent resistance to racial prejudice. He was 35, which made him the youngest recipient of the award at that time.
  7. MLK’s success was achieved using non-violent methods of protest inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.
  8. MLK was admitted to Morehouse College at the age of 15 where he studied medicine and law.

Ways to Honor MLK’s Legacy

  • Volunteer in a way that gives back to the Black community directly
  • Take action against racial injustice – recognizing the accomplishment of MLK but also acknowledging change is still needed
  • Commit to starting more meaningful conversations about racial injustice
  • Use the day as an opportunity to work on allyship – thinking about what you are doing to support the Black community and the equal rights movement
  • Make a donation to organizations that are working for racial justice
  • Talk to older family members that are living history who may have attended a protest, watched MLK on television or seen change that happened firsthand
  • Watch films about MLK’s life – Our Friend, Martin or Selma