As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, we must appreciate the history behind it

On the third Monday of January, people all over the country celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which celebrates the achievements of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta on Jan. 15, 1929 to a

Baptist minister.  He grew up in a segregated America, where black and white people were

separated from each other.  When King was young, he knew segregation was unjust, and wanted to change the way society viewed black people.

After earning a doctorate in theology, he organized the first major protest of the

Civil Rights Movement in 1955.  This was the Montgomery Bus Boycott which involved many African Americans boycotting public buses that forced them to sit in the back rows.  King used the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and preached non-violence and peaceful protest to his followers.  Despite his nonviolent efforts, his protests were often met with violence and hatred from local cops.

“The barbaric treatment that the followers of King endured is beyond disappointing and disturbing to me,” said sophomore Ellie Ross.

Regardless of the public’s constant backlash, King’s followers persisted with

protests.  In 1963, Bayard Rustin and A. Philip Randolph led a march in Washington for

jobs and freedom.  250,000 people gathered outside Lincoln Memorial to hear King preach his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.

“King’s wise words and stirring speech continues to affect me and many others today,”

said sophomore Grace Ain.

By 1964, King’s movement made great progress with a heavy influence over the rest of the Civil Rights Era.  The first achievement was the ratification of the 24th amendment which abolished the poll tax that African Americans were required to pay to vote.  The second was the ratification of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting racial discrimination within employment and education and outlawing racial segregation in public facilities.  Later that year, King won the Nobel Peace Prize, making him the youngest person to ever receive the award.  Years later, on April 4, 1968, he was assassinated by James Earl Ray at a motel in Memphis.

To celebrate King and the lasting imprint that he left on society, Martin Luther King

Jr. Day was declared a national holiday on May 2, 2000.  Although King passed away many years ago, his message has continued to influence many movements in society.  Martin Luther King Jr. day celebrates King’s heroic actions and inspires people to fight for their rights.