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Dr Martin Luther King
When you hear the name Martin Luther King Jr., four words immediately come to mind, "I have a dream." On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered those famous words in a speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
Born in Atlanta during the height of racial segregation, Martin Luther King dedicated his life to bringing attention to these social injustices to light in a powerful but non-violent way. His dedication to God and his country lead him to be of service to his fellow man.
Some of Dr. King's mentors and sources of inspiration range from Henry David Thoreau to Mahatma Gandhi. His words are timeless and hold as much truth and insight as they did over forty years ago.
Raised in a family of preachers, Dr. King himself was a reverend at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. He began his journey as a civil rights early starting with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. A few years later he founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and by 1963 delivered his famous speech to the world.
The author of numerous books on social consciousness and spirituality, Dr. King was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. His dedication to ending racial segregation through non-violent means earned him this prestigious honor. In his later years, MLK focused his energies on ending poverty and protesting the Vietnam War.
With his actions, words and presence all reflecting his unfailing stance on non-violence, it was a tragedy to see Dr. King struck down in the prime of his life. Martin Luther King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Tennessee on April 4, 1968. Dr. King was only 39 years old.
Today his legacy lives on through The King Center located close to where he grew up and delivered his weekly sermons. Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta raised four children who have gone on to continue their father's work in a variety of ways.
In 1977 Dr. King was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously and in 2004, the Congressional Gold Medal. In 1983, Ronald Reagan signed the bill that named the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This is only one of three federal holidays that is honor of an individual person.
In 2008, then president-elect Barack Obama challenged everyone to change this legal holiday from just a day off from work to the chance to volunteer and help those in need. It received one of the biggest responses ever and even more events are planned in 2010.
Even though Martin Luther King Jr. was only here for 39 years, he made an impression that is as strong today as when he was alive. His legend lives on.