MLK Day: How Does it Impact Us Today?

Edward Curry, Editor

Imagine yourself among a sea of people, marching on Washington D.C. in defense of the Civil Rights movement. At the Lincoln Memorial, some 250,000 people have gathered. The people are of all races: Black, White, Hispanic, etc. At the podium, an African American man takes the stand and proclaims, “I have a dream!” Ever since that day on August 28, 1963, the United States would be enlightened to a new perspective on civil liberties and the rights of all citizens.

Americans recognize the third Monday in January as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The holiday is in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on January 15 and in recognition of his achievements during the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King is most famous for his “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963, which criticized racial segregation and racism plaguing the United States. Today, Dr. King’s legacy and the reason why we celebrate MLK Day is just as important as it was fifty-seven years ago.

Dr. King’s path to end segregation in the United States was not necessarily an easy route to follow. King endured immense hatred from the counter segregationist side, composed of white nationalists groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Even the Federal Bureau of Investigation had it out for King as he was subjected to extensive wiretapping and surveillance. By far the most surprising element of the anti-King side was the anonymous FBI letter mailed to Dr. King, insisting that he commit suicide. The letter reads, “You have been on the record — all your adulterous acts, your sexual orgies extending far into the past. This one is but a tiny sample,” the letter says. It threatens that the public “will know you for what you are — an evil, abnormal beast.” It continues: “Your ‘honorary’ degrees, your Nobel prize (what a grim farce) and other awards will not save you. King, I repeat you are done.”

Sadly, Martin Luther King was assassinated at the age of 39 by a would-be assassin named James Earl Ray. Among many of Dr. King’s lessons in life is the importance of love. As Dr. King puts it, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” As we celebrate and remember the lessons and the great legacy of Dr. King’s accomplishments, we should pay witness to his great deeds for the nation and how they continue to inspire and impact us today.

For further reading, check out this article.