For some students, January 17th was just an ordinary day: a day to mentally prepare for the start of classes. Other students considered it a day to purchase the textbooks they needed, to explore the campus, and to move into and get settled into their residence. Most enjoyed that extra day in order to gather our thoughts and materials,but why did we have it off? What was the purpose?January 17 is a United States federal holiday known as “Martin Luther King” day. The holiday is held every year on the third Monday of January to celebrate and honor the achievements of the most famous and successful civil rights leader of our time, Martin Luther King.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. King was one of the biggest and most brave civil rights leaders of his time. King was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, where he held an executive position. Martin Luther King’s mission in life was to end the segregation between all people. He is most famous for his “I have a dream.” speech that was given during his peace march in Washington, D.C. He was also famous for his non-violent protests, often using boycotts as a way to protest the inequality that was segregation.
He was once arrested for leading a bus boycott that lasted for approximately 380 days, which was to protest against the segregations of whites and blacks of the buses. It was after this boycott that the United States Supreme court announced that the segregation of whites and blacks was going against the constitution. King also won the Nobel Peace Prize at the young age of 35, making him one of the youngest people to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968 while standing outside of his motel room in Memphis. The following day, he was supposed to have leaded a protest for mistreated garbage workers who were currently on strike.
How did a holiday dedicated to one of the most inspirational leaders in our world come to be? On Nov. 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill, declaring Martin Luther King Day as a federal holiday. It was not an easy road to pass the bill promoting a holiday for Martin Luther King. The man responsible for helping with the holiday was Congressman John Conyers.
John Conyers brought forth the idea of Martin Luther King Day in the early seventies but it was not until the early eighties that the holiday was actually being considered and even then, the House of Representatives argued that the holiday would be too expensive because of the loss of productivity. The bill was finally passed and on Jan. 20, 1986, after years of struggling to get the bill passed,The United States of America finally celebrated its first Martin Luther King Day.
Angela Thomas is a fourth year student majoring in English and with a minor in web technology. She can be reached at AT683005@wcupa.edu.