Monday 19 January 2015

Martin Luther King Day

"We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Day celebrates a person who "brought hope and healing" and commemorates his "values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service" (via). It is a floating federal holiday in the US and is observed on the third Monday in January which is around Martin Luther King's birthday, i.e. 15th of January. The idea was promoted after King's assassination in 1968, signed into law in 1983 by Ronald Reagan and observed for the first time in 1986. The petition to establish the holiday was signed by six million people, Stevie Wonder's "Happy Birthday" (1981) was dedicated to King and aimed at supporting the campaign. At the beginning, some states were reluctant to observe the holiday and it was only in 2000, that all 50 states offically observed Martin Luther King Day with South Carolina being the last one. Outside the US, Martin Luther King Day is not really known. The day, however, is officially recognised in Toronto and in Hiroshima. Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba holds a special banquet at his office "as an act of unifying his city's call for peace with King's message of human rights." (via).
"It is a day of interracial and intercultural cooperation and sharing. No other day of the year brings so many peoples from different cultural backgrounds together in such a vibrant spirit of brother and sisterhood. Whether you are African-American, Hispanic or Native American, whether you are Caucasian or Asian-American, you are part of the great dream Martin Luther King, Jr. had for America. This is not a black holiday; it is a peoples’ holiday. And it is the young people of all races and religions who hold the keys to the fulfillment of his dream."
The King Center

Description of photograph: In this photograph, Coretta is upset with her husband, who had been attacked the night before by a disturbed white racist but had not defended himself. Though the police urged King to press charges, he refused. "The system we live under creates people such as this youth," he said. "I'm not interested in pressing charges. I'm interested in changing the kind of system that produces such men." (literally via)

Description of photograph: King said in an interview that this photograph was taken as he tried to explain to his daughter Yolanda why she could not go to Funtown, a whites-only amusement park in Atlanta. King claims to have been tongue-tied when speaking to her. "One of the most painful experiences I have ever faced was to see her tears when I told her Funtown was closed to colored children, for I realized the first dark cloud of inferiority had floated into her little mental sky." (literally via)
"Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them."  
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Proclamation 5431 -- Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 1986
January 18, 1986
By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

This year marks the first observance of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a national holiday. It is a time for rejoicing and reflecting. We rejoice because, in his short life, Dr. King, by his preaching, his example, and his leadership, helped to move us closer to the ideals on which America was founded. We reflect on his words and his works. Dr. King's was truly a prophetic voice that reached out over the chasms of hostility, prejudice, ignorance, and fear to touch the conscience of America. He challenged us to make real the promise of America as a land of freedom, equality, opportunity, and brotherhood.
Although Dr. King was an uncompromising champion of nonviolence, he was often the victim of violence. And, as we know, a shameful act of violence cut short his life before he had reached his fortieth birthday.
His story is well-known. As a 26-year-old minister of the Gospel, Dr. King led a protest boycott of a bus company that segregated blacks, treating them as second-class citizens. At the very outset he admonished all those who would join in the protest that ``our actions must be guided by the deepest principles of our Christian faith. Love must be our regulating ideal.'' Otherwise, he warned, ``our protest will end up as a meaningless drama on the stage of history . . . shrouded with ugly garments of shame.'' Dr. King's unshakable faith inspired others to resist the temptation to hate and fear. His protest became a triumph of courage and love.
Almost 30 years ago, on January 30, 1956, Dr. King stood amid the broken glass and splinters of his bombed-out front porch and calmed an angry crowd clamoring for vengeance. ``We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence,'' he told them. Dr. King steadfastly opposed both the timid and those who counselled violence. To the former, he preached that ``true peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.'' To the latter, he said that ``in the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds.''
Dr. King's activism was rooted in the true patriotism that cherishes America's ideals and strives to narrow the gap between those ideals and reality. He took his stand, he once explained, ``because of my love for America and the sublime principles of liberty and equality on which she is founded.'' He wanted ``to transform the jangling discords of our Nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.''
The majesty of his message, the dignity of his bearing, and the righteousness of his cause are a lasting legacy. In a few short years he changed America for all time. He made it possible for our Nation to move closer to the ideals set forth in our Declaration of Independence: that all people are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights that government has the duty to respect and protect.
Twenty-three years ago, Dr. King spoke to a quarter of a million Americans gathered near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington -- and to tens of millions more watching on television. There he held up his dream for America like a bright banner:
``I have a dream,'' he said, ``that my four little children will one day live in a Nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. . . . This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, `My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.'''
Let all Americans continue to carry forward the banner that 18 years ago fell from Dr. King's hands. Today, all over America, libraries, hospitals, parks, and thoroughfares proudly bear his name. His likeness appears on more than 100 postage stamps issued by dozens of nations around the globe. Today we honor him with speeches and monuments. But let us do more. Let all Americans of every race and creed and color work together to build in this blessed land a shining city of brotherhood, justice, and harmony. This is the monument Dr. King would have wanted most of all.
By Public Law 98 - 144, the third Monday in January of each year has been designated as a public holiday in honor of the ``Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.''
Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Monday, January 20, 1986, as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and tenth.

Ronald Reagan (via)

Description of photograph: Martin Luther King Jr. feeds his infant daughter Bernice at Sunday dinner Nov 8, 1964 in Atlanta, Ga. (literally via)
"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."
Martin Luther King, Jr.
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photograph by James Karales via, photographs via and via and via and via and by Flip Schulke/Corbis via