Martin Luther King, Jr., was a Baptist minister and social rights activist in the United States in the 1950s and '60s. He was a leader of the American civil rights movement. He organized a number of peaceful protests as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, including the March on Washington in 1963. His adoption of nonviolent resistance to achieve equal rights for Black Americans earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. King is remembered for his masterful oratorical skills, most memorably in his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Why We Observe MLK Day Every January
Dr. King’s birthday was January 15, so we celebrate his legacy on the third Monday of his birth month. MLK was all about taking a stand for humanity, compassion, and justice. He discussed these and other values in many of his influential works, like his “I Have a Dream” speech, Nobel Peace Prize lecture, and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” writings. As a spokesman for the Montgomery Bus Boycott, he helped fight for the integration of Alabama’s city buses. He helped plan the March for Jobs and Freedom, or the “March on Washington,” which brought out about a quarter-million people to the National Mall in our nation’s capital. During this event, Dr. King delivered his well-known “I Have a Dream” speech.
Please click on the link below to read Martin Luther King Jr. 's biography.
Ways to increase awareness and honor Martin Luther King Jr. and his accomplishments with youth and families.
This year, instead of taking Monday, January 15th as just a day off work, use this day to pause and reflect on who you are, what you stand for, and what legacy you want to leave behind for your community. There are many ways—small and large—that you can honor Dr. King’s work this January. Take a look at this list and find ways to continue his legacy in your life.
Look for where you can give, not receive
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in fighting for the wellbeing of all mankind. He encouraged performing good deeds for his community—regardless of any possible reward. This MLK Day, look for places where you can give back. You can start by donating food or clothing to your local homeless shelter, or you can volunteer some of your time at a local non profit organization. Dr. King’s legacy shows us that when we work together and support each other, we can make a better world for future generations. Donating your time is a great way to show your support.
Learn your nation’s history
It’s always important to know where you came from, so you can better appreciate the progress. Start by learning more about your nation’s history. You can read books about Dr. King from your school or local library—or even do a quick internet search! Visit a museum to explore the work of Civil Rights Leaders. Watch a documentary to learn about the past and what our ancestors endured to bring about the world we live in today. Or, if you have older family members who lived during Dr. King’s time, interview them to hear their experience! Learning about the past can be a great way to put things into perspective about how far we have come as a nation.
Check out these links for videos:
Dr. King's life in photos:
Remember Dr. King’s message of kindness and respect for others
Because we honor civil rights leader Dr. King on January 15th this year, it’s important to remember the man who sparked such impactful events. Learn more about his message and his mission by reading, watching, or listening to some of his revered works.
Rewatch the famous “I Have a Dream” speech, or spend some time reading and reflecting on other pieces of Dr. King’s published work. That way, you can remind yourself of the original message. It can be a good way to instill some of MLK’s good values in your everyday life.
"I Have a Dream..."
Have a dialogue with your family and friends
After you remind yourself of the history of Dr. King’s work and his message, then it’s time to continue the conversation. Discuss your thoughts in MLK’s words and actions with your closer friends and family. Ask them what they think about MLK’s legacy. Ask them about some of their favorite leaders who made an impact on their lives.
Dr. King was all about speaking up for what is right and peacefully protesting injustices in his world. To honor Martin Luther King, we can all learn how to get involved in our society and stand for what we believe in.
Become a part of the movement for a better tomorrow
Join your local Civil Rights or social justice organization and make your mark on your community. Get involved with your DEIJ committees at work or local community centers. Giving your time to organizations like these are a great way to get active and help find a solution to many of our community’s issues for obtaining peace, justice, and equality.
Be your own version of MLK
We can all take some inspiration from Dr. King and become leaders in our own communities. Ask questions and explore different possibilities about how better our society can become. When something does not seem right or moral, do your job by challenging it. Ask others, “Is there a better way of doing things?” Be an example to your peers and see how many will follow suit.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
– Martin Luther King Jr., Letters from Birmingham Jail
Observing MLK Day with kids
Looking for ways to observe MLK Day with kids? Children can learn from Dr. King’s legacy, too! Together, you can write letters to your state representatives to remind them of how important it is to keep MLK’s message alive even today. Check out this link for ideas and activities.
Free Event at Kleinhans Music Hall https://kleinhansbuffalo.org/event/dr-martin-luther-king-jr-celebration/
44th Community Celebration at the Buffalo & Erie Library https://www.visitbuffaloniagara.com/event/44th-annual-community-celebration-honoring-dr-martin-luther-king-jr/
Buffalo History Museum
Keep the Legacy Alive
This Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, do something different—something meaningful. Get out in your community and service someone in need. Share love or kindness to someone today. There are many things you can do to pass on MLK’s legacy and show your respect to a fellow human being. You will be surprised how good you can feel helping others.