I can think of no better way to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) than by blogging about him this week. Also, my son has no school today, so I have the distinguished Dr. King (and the federal government) to thank for this unpredictable day. Let the (at-home business writer functioning as a 4th grader’s “beck-and-call girl”) games begin…
MLK Day Was a Long Time Coming: Congressman John Conyers started legislating for a federal holiday commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, the same year as King’s assassination. The bill was finally signed into law (by Ronald Regan, y’all) in 1983, and then acted upon in 1986.
But MLK’s birthday (January 15) was deemed too close to Christmas and New Year’s Day (too many candy canes and party hats, not enough marching in protest?). So the settled-upon compromise was the third Monday in January. Not every state in the U.S. embraced the holiday right away. The very last state to recognize MLK Day as a paid holiday was…South Carolina, in 2000.
MLK Grooved on Gandhi’s Civil Disobedience Tactics: MLK is closely associated with Mohandas (aka Mahatma) Gandhi’s iconic methods of nonviolent protest that led to India’s independence from Great Britain in 1947. But another famous someone was also an influence on Reverend King. It all started with Henry David Thoreau’s 1848/1849 essay, Civil Disobedience, originally titled Resistance to Civil Government.
You Too Can Play U2’s MLK Songs All Day: If you’re a U2 fan, you know that Pride (In the Name of Love) from the band’s 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire is a tribute to MLK. Allegedly, Bono first started writing the song about Ronald Regan’s “pride” in America’s military prowess. But then he was swayed, after reading MLK and Malcolm X biographies, to take another direction.
Not all music critics consider this song’s lyrics memorable. Also, the “Early morning, April 4” reference is factually wrong regarding what time of day MLK’s assassination occurred. But still, it’s got a good beat…
MLK Never Gave a Speech He Didn’t Like: Here, in chronological order, are links to Dr. King’s most iconic and well-remembered speeches–
- Letter from Birmingham Jail (April, 1963)
- March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (I Have a Dream…) (August, 1963)
- Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech (December, 1964)
- Beyond Vietnam (August, 1967)
- I’ve Been to the Mountaintop (April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated)
It’s Your Civil Right to Read These Books: This post’s photo represents one of the best compilations of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work – The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by Clayborne Carson. For other related reading, please take advantage of this scrolling list from the nice people at GoodReads.com and these book suggestions on The King Center’s website.
What memories or images regarding Martin Luther King, Jr. stay with you as an adult? From which of his books, sermons, or speeches have you pulled or referenced famous quotes? Here’s the one I like and will shout out loud when my son leaves the parental nest for college (because, “I have a dream…”):
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
— “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Call her (856-810-9764) or email her (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a no-obligation project quote today!