Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of the first Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Dr. King was only 39 years old when he was shot to death in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.
Rarely has anyone in history packed so much into 39 years.
Dr. King is best remembered as an outspoken advocate of civil rights.
He became the voice of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus in December 1955.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregation on public buses unconstitutional in 1956, the doctrine of “separate but equal” was truly dying. This decision followed on the heels of the Brown v. Board of Education, decided in 1954, which was the first major chink in the armor of Jim Crow laws established after the Plessy v. Ferguson decision by the Court in 1896.
Dr. King was the Montgomery boycott’s protest leader and official spokesman, a position which thrust him onto the national and international stage for the remainder of his life.
In 1957, Dr. King was joined by other ministers and civil rights activists in founding the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The SCLC was committed to achieving full civil rights for African Americans through nonviolent means.
Perhaps Dr. King’s most remembered moment is his “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in August 1963.