An Essay on the Significance of the Martin Luther King Jr Day

An Essay on the Significance of the Martin Luther King Jr Day

An Essay on the Significance of the Martin Luther King Jr Day

Martin Luther King Jr. was a revolutionary leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He is renowned for the “I Have a Dream” speech that changed the course of many lives. The Martin Luther King Jr. day is celebrated yearly during his birthday on the third Monday in January. This day was set aside to commemorate and acknowledge his dream that all women and men will co-exist peacefully and equally, regardless of race or colour. According to Kaplan (2004), the Martin Luther King Jr. day allows people to think about his ideology that problems can be handled without violence. It is celebrated by Republicans, Democrats, whites and blacks in the form of concerts, church vigils or parades. On this day he is remembered for his fight for equality, freedom, cohesiveness and opportunity guided by core principles of the Christian faith.

This holiday is celebrated in all the 50 states and Washington D.C with banks, federal offices and companies closing down to celebrate. Further, Americans living in other parts of the world in over 100 nations also celebrate this day in their respective locations. During this day, the biggest celebration is conducted in his hometown in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr King was an individual who spent the majority of his time serving other people. In this regard, people believe that this day should also be spent the same way. For instance, some people spend it volunteering by painting schools, helping the elderly or cleaning up the neighbourhood (Nobleman, 2004). Hence, the Martin Luther King Jr. day allowed people to practice acts of kindness and emulate his life.

As an instrumental civil rights leader in the 1960s, immediately after his death there were requests to have a national holiday in his honour. Based on Miller (2009), over six million individuals signed a petition in 1982 to support the idea to have a holiday to honour his legacy. The passage of the legislation for a federal holiday was characterized by challenges based on political and racial grounds. However, in 1983 legislation was passed with the third Monday in January approved as a federal holiday whose first ceremony was in 1986. It was signed into law by President Reagan after the final vote in the House of Representatives in August and one in the Senate in October.

Significance of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, and immediately after his death, people advocated for a holiday to celebrate him. This day is symbolic to different people around the world for various reasons.

Celebration of the legacy and life of Martin Luther King Jr

The black people were liberated from slavery after the Civil War. However, they were unable to access fundamental rights as their white counterparts. During the 1800s, segregation laws were enforced in many states around the country, widening the divide between whites and blacks (Kaplan, 2004). For instance, black children went to inferior schools than whites. Further, the blacks had to sit in the back when they boarded busses and were denied the right to vote. Martin Luther King Jr. was instrumental in fighting for the freedom and justice that promotes equality. The Martin Luther King Jr. day allows people to celebrate the legacy of an individual who brought hope to America.

Racial Inequality and Injustice

The Martin Luther King Jr. day is significant since it presents an opportunity to honour a man who fought against inequality and racial injustice. Despite that the United States has yet to eliminate the race problem, this day presents an opportunity to acknowledge the initiatives taken by Dr King. According to Nobleman (2004), the Martin Luther King Jr. day is a reminder that racism still exists. Thus, people need to work together and formulate policies that ensure equal treatment is attained.

Commemoration of a Peaceful Man

 Dr King believed in the power of peace which was evident in how he organized the boycotts and marches. Based on Miller (2009), Martin Luther King Jr. believed that segregation could be conquered via a peaceful approach. He used his voice to create and facilitate the change he wanted for his people and the country. Thus, the Martin Luther King Jr. day is crucial in passing the message that non-violence is essential to change.

Generational Progress

This day is beneficial in instilling the right model of behaviour to the young generation. It presents an opportunity to educate the young generation about the benefits of standing up for their rights. Martin Luther King Jr. changed the future of the black community by using non-violent means to achieve the objectives. Presently, social movements such as the Black Lives Matter are using the same tactics to fight against racial inequality. Commemorating this day is a reminder that peaceful protests will facilitate the change needed in society.

Day of Service

During this holiday, people take the opportunity to serve each other regardless of social status, colour or race. People volunteer to clean the streets, cater to the homeless and change their surroundings to emulate the life of Dr King, which he spent serving the needs of the people. Hence, Martin Luther King Jr. day highlights the need to work together and embrace social cohesiveness without discrimination.

In conclusion, Martín Luther King Jr. is a renowned leader in American history. The impact of his influence and approach has allowed him to be the symbol of peace and hope in America. The Martin Luther King Jr. day is significant because it enables the nation to remember one of the bravest and resilient men in America. Despite that racial discrimination is still experienced by the minority groups, this day gives people hope that change is possible. It will be achieved when people are open-minded and ready to listen to each other’s grievances.


Kaplan, L. C. (2004). Martin Luther King Jr. Day. New York: PowerKids Press.

Miller, R. (2009). Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree Pub. Co.

Nobleman, M. T. (2004). Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Minneapolis, Minn: Compass Point Books


Published on: 28 Aug 2020

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