I Have a Dream


Ann Phillips-Breese

On Monday, January 20, 2020, it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Kids celebrate the holiday because there is no school. But few consider what this holiday means. Well, you are going to find out in this article!

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? In the mid 1950’s African Americans were protesting against racial segregation and discrimination. People were discriminating African Americans because their skin is dark. The African Americans wanted to fight for their rights but in a non violent way. They had protests, signed petitions, and faced legal challenges. Martin Luther King Jr. was in his 20’s when the movement took place. 

Now who is Martin Luther King Jr? Martin Luther King Jr., was a social activist and a Baptist minister. He hoped for equality and human rights not just for African Americans but also for the economically disadvantaged and all victims of injustice.

There are many examples of MLK defending his rights. One of the examples is the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give a white person her seat. Activists including King started a boycott that lasted 381 days. There was such a big economic strain on public transportation and downtown business owners that the situation was resolved in the Supreme Court. They ruled that segregated seating on public transportation was unconstitutional. King was promoted to protest leader and official spokesman. 

MLK was the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) which is a club to achieve full equality for African Americans without using violence. MLK travelled around the world, giving speeches on non violent protests and rights. At the same time, he met religious figures, activists, and political leaders. 

On August 28, 1963, MLK and other activists made the March on Washington to show the inequality African Americans have to deal with on a day to day basis. 200,000- 300,000 participants showed up for the occasion. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. He shared how ALL men are created equal. The speech was so powerful that Congress passed the Voting Rights Act which allowed ALL African Americans have the right to vote. Martin Luther King Jr., was named “Man of the Year” in Time Magazine and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 

April 8, 1968, was a very shocking day. That was the day when Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed. James Earl Ray pleaded guilty for the murder. At the time, MLK was in Memphis, supporting a sanitation worker’s strike.

President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that created a holiday in honor of MLK in 1983. So, now we know that Martin Luther King Jr. Day isn’t just a day off from school. It is a day for everyone to reflect on the imprint Martin Luther King Jr. left on history.