The man behind the day


Katie Wong

A poster which showcases Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear” hangs on the side of a refrigerator surrounded by butterfly magnets on Jan. 14, 2023.

“I have a dream.”

Martin Luther King Jr. delivered this famous speech on Aug. 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial. Just under 60 years ago. 

Martin Luther King Jr. led the Civil Rights Movement that helped to end of legal segregation in the South. He helped form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a civil rights organization, and initiated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Later on, he directed the March on Washington and helped establish both the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act. King was arrested over 20 times.

According to the National Archives, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in public places and made employment discrimination illegal. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed discriminatory voting practices that were adopted in many southern states after the Civil War. These practices included poll taxes, literary tests, harassment and violence when African-Americans tried to register to vote. 

“He did countless inspirational things,” said APUSH student Caitlin LaBrecque. “He greatly changed this country for the better through his words.” 

King won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for ‘his non-violent struggle for civil rights for the Afro-American population.’ At the time, he was the youngest man to receive the award at age 35, according to The Nobel Prize. 

“He helped pave the way to better understanding that the color of someone’s skin doesn’t matter,” said senior African-American student Jamaige Clark. “That we should judge by someone’s character.” 

According to, King was assassinated in 1968. After years of petitioning, Ronald Reagan signed a bill that created a federal holiday in honor of him. Martin Luther King Jr. Day has been a federal holiday since 1986. The holiday falls on the third Monday of January, around the same time as his birthday, Jan. 15. 

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted,” said King,” Every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, . . . and all flesh shall see it together.”