The third Monday of January is a federal holiday in the U.S.A., in honour of Martin Luther King. In keeping with King's philosophy, citizens are encouraged to treat it as a day of service to others by volunteering in their communities. As the slogan says, it is "a day on, not a day off".
Starting with the Montgomery bus boycott, the African-American civil rights leader and Baptist pastor Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. led a non-violent campaign to change the segregation laws that discriminated against black Americans. On 28 August 1963, he addressed 250,000 civil-rights protesters in Washington, D. C. with his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was finally passed by Congress and Dr King was given the Nobel Peace Prize. But on 4 April 1968, King was assassinated.
Have you ever listened carefully to the lyrics of Stevie Wonder's song, "Happy Birthday to You"? He wrote it as part of the campaign to have MLK's birthday, 15 January, honoured with a holiday.
"I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition."
Black activists, and King's family, had lobbied for a holiday in his name ever since his assassination. Wonder's 1981 song, and a series of rallies and festivals he helped organise, gave the campaign momentum. IN 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday bill, and it was first observed in 1986.
A Day of Service
On MLK Day (15 January this year — his actual birthday), people of all ages and colours get together to do something to help their community. They paint schools and community centres, make meals for the elderly, clean up parks or make aid packages for homeless people.
This them connects well with
Give me five! 4e Unit 5 "Journey to Freedom" on
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.
Download a sample page here.
Corporation for National and Community Service
> Montgomery Bus Boycott: A Victory for Civil Rights
> African American History on the Web
> Martin Luther King Day on the Web
> Civil Rights: The Montgomery Bus Boycott
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