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Martin Luther King Jr. Day (US)

Authored by British Online Archives
Published on 16th January, 2024 1 min read

Martin Luther King Jr. Day (US)

Today (16/01/2024) is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a public holiday in the United States. It celebrates the birthday of one of the most influential civil rights activists of the twentieth century. Born in 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an African American Baptist minister who engaged in the struggle for social justice. King lived in an era of state-sanctioned racial segregation. As a result of the so-called “Jim Crow” laws, introduced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, African Americans living in the USA were discriminated against in employment and in terms of access to education and housing.

In 1964 King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign against racial inequality. He is remembered for his tireless activism and his advocacy of non-violent forms of protest. Between 1957 and 1968 he travelled over six million miles and spoke at more than 2500 events. In 1963 he delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech in Washington. On 4 April 1968, King visited Memphis, Tennessee, to show his solidarity with striking African American sanitation workers. He was shot by James Earl Ray and died later that evening. He was 39 years old.

The struggle for equality and social justice is far from over. In many countries today (including the United Kingdom), structural and institutional forms of racism severely restrict the opportunities open to people of colour, thereby perpetuating an unequal society. Today, we reflect on the legacy of Dr. King, whose work continues to inspire change.

Authored by British Online Archives

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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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