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Martin Luther King Jr: A Man Who Changed a Nation

Jude Kotob, Author

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As Martin Luther King Day approaches, we should stop and think about all the challenges that this extraordinary hero faced to accomplish goals.

MLK Jr. was born on January 15th, 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia and he was originally famous for his strong minster beliefs which inspired crowds of people. During this time in American history, African-Americans were being oppressed by racist Jim Crow laws. Growing up in the South, King was saw this discrimination everywhere: from black and white water fountains, bathrooms, and even restaurants. In the Southern states, segregation was worse than in the other states, encouraging King fight to get the rights that his people deserved.

MLK became inspired by the non-violent protests of Mahatma Gandhi. He would go around the country preaching his ways of nonviolence to crowds of blacks wanting the rights they had deserved.

King’s nonviolent ways were put to the test during the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. Thousands of blacks and whites marched through the streets of Washington to help end segregation. On that day, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I have a dream” speech. He said, “I have a dream 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.”

The following year on July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Finally, some of the work that civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr, paid off.

Unfortunately, King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. Though King helped  people from oppression, many white supremacists were not happy with King’s work.

Although King was killed over 40 ago, we still remember him as one of the most inspiring and influential people in American history. We have streets named after him, we learn about him in school, and we have a beautiful memorial for him in Washington DC.

This MLK Day, be sure to remind yourself of King’s amazing accomplishments and remember what his amazing contribution to freedom has meant all over the United States and world.

Also, be sure to check out the MLK Day Open House at Wyoming Presbyterian Church. They are having a showing of Martin’s Big Words, a Diversity and Peace themed book sale by Words bookstore, a Big Words art project, Drumming workshops by Ya’haya Kamate, and Millburn High School’s Soulfege.

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