Happy Birthday Martin Luther King Jr.


Martin Luther King Jr. Biography

Civil Rights Activist, Minister (1/15/1929–1968)

 Martin Luther King – Mini Biography Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is widely considered the most influential leader of the American civil rights movement. He fought to overturn Jim Crow segregation laws and eliminate social and economic differences between blacks and whites.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. King, both a Baptist minister and civil-rights activist, had a seismic impact on race relations in the United States, beginning in the mid-1950s. Among many efforts, King headed the SCLC. Through his activism, he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the South and other areas of the nation, as well as the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, among several other honors. King was assassinated in April 1968, and continues to be remembered as one of the most lauded African-American leaders in history, often referenced by his 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.”

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Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and social activist, who led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

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History… January 15


1559 – England’s Queen Elizabeth I (Elizabeth Tudor) was crowned in Westminster Abbey.

1624 – Many riots occurred in Mexico when it was announced that all churches were to be closed.

1777 – The people of New Connecticut (now the state of Vermont) declared their independence.

1844 – The University of Notre Dame received its charter from the state of Indiana.

1863 – “The Boston Morning Journal” became the first paper in the U.S. to be published on wood pulp paper.

1870 – A cartoon by Thomas Nast titled “A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” appeared in “Harper’s Weekly.” The cartoon used the donkey to symbolize the Democratic Party for the first time.

1892 – “Triangle” magazine in Springfield, MA, published the rules for a brand new game. The original rules involved attaching a peach baskets to a suspended board. It is now known as basketball.

1899 – Edwin Markham’s poem, “The Man With a Hoe,” was published for the first time.

1906 – Willie Hoppe won the billiard championship of the world in Paris, France.

1908 – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority became America’s first Greek-letter organization established by African-American college women.

1913 – The first telephone line between Berlin and New York was inaugurated.

1936 – The first, all glass, windowless building was completed in Toledo, OH. The building was the new home of the Owens-Illinois Glass Company Laboratory.

1943 – The Pentagon was dedicated as the world’s largest office building just outside Washington, DC, in Arlington, VA. The structure covers 34 acres of land and has 17 miles of corridors.

1945 – CBS Radio debuted “House Party”. The show was on the air for 22 years.

1953 – Harry S Truman became the first U.S. President to use radio and television to give his farewell as he left office.

1955 – The first solar-heated, radiation-cooled house was built by Raymond Bliss in Tucson, AZ.

1967 – The first National Football League Super Bowl was played. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League. The final score was 35-10.

1973 – U.S. President Nixon announced the suspension of all U.S. offensive action in North Vietnam. He cited progress in peace negotiations as the reason.

1974 – “Happy Days” premiered on ABC-TV.

1986 – President Reagan signed legislation making Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday to be celebrated on the third Monday of January.

1987 – Paramount Home Video reported that it would place a commercial at the front of one of its video releases for the first time. It was a 30-second Diet Pepsi ad at the beginning of “Top Gun.”

2001 – Wikipedia was launched.

2003 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Congress had permission to repeatedly extend copyright protection.

2006 – NASA’s Stardust space probe mission was completed when it’s sample return capsule returned to Earth with comet dust from comet Wild 2

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1986 – President Reagan signed legislation making Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a national holiday to be celebrated on the third Monday of January


The establishment of a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., marked the culmination of a long campaign that began soon after King’s assassination and ended on 2 November 1983, with the signing of legislation by President Ronald Reagan. Public Law 98–144 designated the third Monday in January as an annual federal holiday in King’s honor, and the first official celebration took place on 20 January 1986.

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King’s 1968 assassination prompted various efforts to pay homage to the slain civil rights leader. Many communities throughout the nation reacted by naming streets, schools, and other public landmarks after King. Congressman John Conyers (D–MI) initially introduced a bill calling for a national holiday only four days after King’s assassination, but this proposal garnered little support until the numbers of African Americans elected to Congress increased and King holiday campaigns at the local and state levels gained momentum. The Congressional Black Caucus’ persistent attempts to pass King holiday legislation gained support from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which King had led since its founding in 1957. In the early 1970s the SCLC gathered petitions bearing 3 million signatures in support of the King holiday. In 1973, the first state King holiday bill (sponsored by Assemblyman Harold Washington) was signed into law in Illinois, and in 1974, similar legislation was passed in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Most other states followed suit during the following decade.

During the late 1970s, King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, and the Atlanta-based King Center that she founded played an increasingly important role in mobilizing popular support for a holiday. In 1979, Coretta Scott King urged passage of a national King holiday bill when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee and joint hearings of Congress. In addition, Coretta Scott King directed King Center staff to begin intensive organizing of a nationwide citizens lobby for the holiday and garnered more than 300,000 signatures on a petition before the end of the year. With support from the Jimmy Carter administration, the King holiday bill emerged for the first time from congressional committees, but in November 1979 the bill was defeated by five votes in a floor vote in the House of Representatives.

The setback did not end the national campaign. Singer Stevie Wonder composed a song celebrating King’s birth, and his hit recording of the birthday song further increased the holiday’s popular support. On 15 January 1983, more than 100,000 people rallied at the Washington Monument to express support for the King holiday movement. With financial support from Wonder, a lobbying office was opened in Washington, D.C., and eventually this effort secured more than 6 million signatures on petitions to Congress in support of a King national holiday. The King Center began working with Wonder to organize an observance of the 20th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. More than half a million people attended this commemoration march and the rally at the Lincoln Memorial, where they heard speakers call upon the Senate and President Reagan to enact King holiday legislation.

A few weeks before the march took place, the House passed a bill creating the King holiday by an overwhelming vote of 338–90. But the subsequent Senate debate concerning the bill was nonetheless contentious, continuing into the fall of 1983. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms sought to diminish King’s reputation by calling for the release of Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance tapes on King that had been sealed by court order until the year 2027, while other senators complained that another paid holiday would be too costly. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D–MA) vigorously defended King against the allegations of Helms, noting that no evidence of ties between King and the Communist Party had been uncovered. When the Senate finally voted on the bill on 19 October, the packed galleries included numerous prominent proponents of the holiday, including Coretta Scott King, SCLC President Joseph E. Lowery, and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Executive Director Benjamin Hooks. The holiday bill was finally approved by a vote of 78–22 (37 Republicans and 41 Democrats voted in favor; 18 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted against).

After the holiday bill became law, the King Center gained congressional support to establish a King Federal Holiday Commission, which introduced a variety of commemorative activities, including tree planting ceremonies and the distribution of posters, newsletters, and guides citing the principles of King’s nonviolence teachings. In the 1990s the King holiday theme became “Remember—Celebrate—Act. A Day On, Not a Day Off.” As with other federal holidays, the observance of the King holiday applied only to federal workers rather than employees of state and local governments or of private institutions, but by January 1989 the number of states celebrating a King holiday had grown to 44 and, in June 1999, New Hampshire became the final state to pass some form of King holiday legislation.

Footnotes

Source: kinginstitute.stanford.edu