It was 1968 when a prominent civil rights activist was assassinated. In the ensuing years it seemed fitting to pay tribute to such an influential man in American history. The third Monday of every January is now designated “Martin Luther King Day.”  It marks a day to remember and celebrate one of the most influential people of the twentieth century, a day to reflect on the many ways he impacted the course of American history. Martin Luther King was a pastor, humanitarian and tireless activist in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.  He was a true leader with a vision of racial equality. His determination and unwavering belief in equality and opportunity for all Americans make him a deserving candidate to have a national holiday named in his honor.

Martin Luther King was born in 1929 in Atlanta. He was able to graduate high school at the age of 15 and attained his first college degree at 19. He later married Coretta Scott and became a Baptist minister at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 and founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. He helped organize several non-violent protests in Birmingham. These peaceful protests attracted national attention because of the brutal police response.

In 1963, he helped organize the March on Washington to draw attention to his goal of furthering racial equality. It was there he made the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. King was arguably one of the most passionate and charismatic speakers of our time. His focus on non-violent means of combating racial inequality earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.

Civil rights remain an important issue in America, and complacency is not an option. Mr. King made great strides, and the ultimate sacrifice, to ensure the groundwork was laid for racial equality.

“I Have a Dream” are words that still echo today throughout the nation. The dream has not been fully realized and must not be allowed to fade or die. King’s speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington is one that is still resonates with meaning today. Hundreds of thousands of people came out to support King during his protests and to hear him speak. These same people would want their grandchildren and great grandchildren to share in the privilege of his wisdom and vision. A society free of injustice and oppression is a high ideal, but one that is worth the struggle began by Reverend King sixty years ago.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” Martin Luther King Jr. said

These simple words said by King were true fifty years ago, stand true today, and will remain true until the end of time. For this reason, it is important to honor the man who spent his life breaking the silence and dedicated his life to pursuing what mattered most to him, and to his country.  Martin Luther King Day is a way to honor his legacy and to ensure America never forgets the “things that matter.”

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