The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

All are quotes from the late great Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential civil rights activists in American history.

A proponent of peaceful protest, Dr. King passionately vocalized his belief in the necessity for nonviolent civil disobedience during the African-American Civil Rights Movement, which began in approximately 1954.

Martin Luther King Jr. was born on Jan. 15, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, to Martin Luther King Sr. and Alberta Williams King.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day takes place on the third Monday in January annually, around the time of Dr. King’s birthday, and is an American federal holiday.

MLK Day was declared a federal holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Even so, it took approximately three years for the first observance of the holiday to occur.

Additionally, it was not until the year 2000 that MLK Day was first recognized and observed by all 50 states of the United States of America.

There are many varied and unique traditions across America when it comes to celebrating the birthday of one of the most influential individuals of all time.

“Observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day is more important than ever,” Jaclynn Wallette, director of multicultural programs, said. “King, who was a key civil rights pioneer, encouraged nonviolence and peaceful mass civil disobedience to change the fabric of the nation during the 1940s until his death on April 4, 1968.”

“He understood that peaceful demonstrations were the only way to guarantee their cry for rights would be heard and answered,” Wallette said.

Hate, violence, racism and much more were all prevalent before, during and after the time of the Civil Rights Movement, including present day America.

Regarding this, Wallette said, “One of the issues the nation is currently grappling with is the need for people to come together to unify the country. This desire to unify people is one of the key tenets of King’s message. His birthday provides the opportunity for our students to pause, if only for a moment, and reflect on his message and hopefully (it will) inspire people to volunteer that day in the community.”

Wallette continued, “In an effort to educate the NDSU campus on topics related to diversity, the Office of Multicultural Programs assists in the planning of events for the different cultural months and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. These events have ranged from students holding a spoken word and poetry event, to speakers in the community sharing their visions of peace, to musical events as well as a candle light vigil for victims of social injustice.”

On Wednesday, the Office of Multicultural Programs, as well as various members of NDSU’s Performing Arts Department, hosted an event at Beckwith Recital Hall to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

“This year, students in the NDSU Performing Arts Department will do a powerful stage reading of one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s signature speeches ‘I have been to the Mountaintop,’ which was King’s last speech before his assassination,” Wallette said. “In this speech, he challenges our county to deliver the promises outlined in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence to all of its citizens regardless of race, creed, color, gender identity and political affiliation, to name a few.

According to the advertisement for the stage-reading event, “In it he calls for unity, economic actions, boycotts and nonviolent protests while challenging the U.S. to live up to its ideals.”

On Monday, The Volunteer Network hosted their annual MLK Service Day event.

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