Martin Luther King Jr. Day (MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around the time of King’s birthday, January 15. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.1
Today people are invited to not only remember the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., but to also join the movement of working to end racism and racial discrimination in the United States.
Here are a few links and videos that highlight the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as resources on African American history in the United States.
“I Have a Dream” (full version)
Martin Luther King’s Address at March on Washington, August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.
Letter from Birmingham Jail (view the document and listen to the audio)
An open letter written on April 16, 1963, by Martin Luther King, Jr., this letter defends the strategy of nonviolent resistance to racism, arguing that people have a moral responsibility to break unjust laws. The letter was widely published and became an important text for the American civil rights movement of the early 1960s.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University
Building upon the achievements of Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute supports a broad range of activities illuminating the Nobel Peace laureate’s life and the movements he inspired. The Institute’s publications, public programs, workshops, and website inform a diverse global audience about King’s dream of global peace with social justice.
The King Center
Embracing Dr. King’s philosophy and strategy of nonviolence to eliminate poverty, racism and violence, The King Center is determined to have a positive impact on the continuing struggle to fulfill his great dream for America and the world. The King Center’s mission is designed to meet this challenge.
3 MLK quotes that convict me today by Christena Cleveland
All quotes are taken from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s essay An Experiment in Love (1958) which he wrote to describe the nonviolent philosophy behind the Montgomery bus boycott.
58 tweetable MLK quotes to reclaim kings legacy by Drew Dellinger
Kid Friendly Films on African American History
Make the next family movie night an educational night! It’s the perfect teachable moment and a great way to engage the kids with important topics. Here are just a few films that serve as conversation starters for the kids to discuss African American history. This list includes films for most grade levels.
How to Talk to Your Kids about Martin Luther King Any Day of the Year by TIME magazine
At any age, it’s important to help students remember that King wasn’t a legend, but a person, just like them. “If you put someone on a pedestal, they you can’t really be like them,” Clayborne Carson, founding director of the King Institute says. “But if you realize that he was a human being just like the rest of us, who was caught up in a great movement and did extraordinary things, then people begin to understand that they can do extraordinary things, too.”
Teaching Kids about Martin Luther King Jr. by Scholastic
Learn how to make Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and his work meaningful for children today — and forever.
Readers of iAt, what resources do you find helpful in learning more about Martin Luther King, Jr.? What are you doing today to join in the movement to end racism and racial discrimination?