Celebrations of Martin Luther King Jr., the man who broke America’s social inequality, take place across today with parades and marches.
Today is a day to celebrate the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. Every year it is commemorated on the 3rd Monday of January.
King spent his entire life fighting for black Americans’ civil rights in America by nonviolent means; as a result, racial segregation was abolished and the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.
Here are five facts about the man who influenced American history, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 15, which is observed nationwide today.
The boycott of Montgomery buses
After Rosa Parks, a black woman, was arrested in December 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a white person on a public bus because of her race, a 13-month nonviolent mass protest began. The protest culminated in a decision by the US Supreme Court declaring that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional.
About 40,000 individuals refused to take public transportation as part of the protest, according to the History Channel.
Reaction against the Vietnam War
King’s public persona prominently featured his opposition to the Vietnam War.
A year before he passed away, on April 4, 1967, he made a lecture in New York City titled “Beyond Vietnam” in which he urged for an end to the bombing of Vietnam.
In order to start peace negotiations, he also recommended that the US government leave and declare a truce.
He made a statement that sparked controversy when he addressed the subject: “We were taking the Black young men, who had been crippled by our society, and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.”
The speech “I Have a Dream”
One of the most famous speeches in American history is King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered on August 28, 1963, at the March on Washington.
Many people view Dr. King’s speech and the March on Washington as pivotal moments in the Civil Rights Movement.
The speech was crucial in the ratification of the 24th Amendment, which outlawed the poll tax, and in the development of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbade discrimination based on race in the workplace and in educational institutions.
winning the Nobel Peace Prize
King, who was 35 at the time, was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, given recognition for his advocacy of nonviolent resistance to racial injustice.
He is the twelveth American to win the esteemed accolade.
The $53,123 prize money was supposedly given by King to the civil rights movement.
James Earl Ray shot and killed King on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Ray was found guilty and given a 99-year sentence.
However, according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on December 8, 1999, twelve jurors made a unanimous verdict that King’s killing was a product of a conspiracy.
The evidence demonstrated that the Mafia and local, state, and federal U.S. government agencies were at fault and that Ray did not pull the trigger.
After King was killed, there was pandemonium, and many Black Americans wondered if the dream he had spoken of so beautifully had perished with him.
Nonetheless, King’s life and legacy are still taught to youth today all across the world, and his dream of justice and equality for everyone is still relevant.