The Man Behind the Legacy
Monday, January 15th, is Martin Luther King Jr Day: a nationally recognized holiday in the United States. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a famous Civil Rights Activist in the 1950’s and 1960’s, who advocated for the end of racial segregation and for racial equality in the United States. Dr. King was an executive member of the National Association of Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was an influential pastor who eventually became head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement during the 1960’s.
Dr. King is best remembered for his role in helping to organize multiple peaceful protests that ultimately led to de-segregation laws in the United States. These protests included the famous 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, of which Rosa Parks is famously remembered for refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white woman. The boycott lasted 382 days, and Dr. King was threatened, his house was bombed and he was arrested during this time, but he refused to relent.
In 1963 March on Washington, DC, Dr. King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. This is one of the best remembered Civil Rights protests in United States history: 250,000 people marched on the National Mall for equal rights.
Dr. King also led the 1965 from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, the State Capitol. During this peaceful march, Dr. King and other civil rights leaders were faced with extreme violence from the local white citizens and police.
Thanks to Dr Martin Luther King Jr, his partnership with the NAACP and other Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s, Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. While this was a huge achievement and brought the United States on step closer to equality, the need for Civil Rights action is still present.
In 2017, people across the United States took up MLK’s legacy of nonviolent marching and united in the Women’s March, which took place in Washington, DC, with sister marches occurring across the country and world. In Washington DC alone, somewhere between 440,000 to 500,000 people gathered, while it is estimated over 5 million people marched across the world.
A Day of Service
While the 3rd Monday of every January is recognized as a holiday in honor of Dr. King, many people use the day off to volunteer. The MLK Day of Service honors Dr. King’s legacy of service and action, as volunteers use the holiday to give back, especially to communities of color and underserved communities.
The Carlson Leadership Center at the University of Washington helps organize projects for students to get involved every year with different projects around King County.
In 2017, nearly 3,000 people across King County came together to volunteer on MLK Day of Service, including IEP students! Volunteering is a great way to give back and stay connected to the communities around us, especially since many of the students at the University of Washington are not from King County, but benefit from it’s resources and location . Projects include environmental clean up, shelter volunteer hours, advocacy projects, and repair and decoration projects. No service is too small to preform!
If you’re interested in participating as a UW or IEP student, you can sign up through the Carlson Leadership Center and United Way.