What Kids Should Know About Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Celebrated on the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a national holiday that honors the United States’ most famous civil rights activist.

King’s peaceful struggle against racial discrimination came to national attention in 1955 when he led a boycott protesting laws that required blacks and whites to sit in separate sections on buses. He was jailed and physically attacked, and his home was bombed, but in 1956 the Supreme Court declared such laws unconstitutional. Through nonviolent protest and activism, King raised awareness of the cause to the masses.

King made his iconic I Have a Dream speech at the protest march on August 28, 1963. A large crowd of 200,000 people amassed at the Lincoln Memorial and millions more watched on television as King put forward his vision of a day when freedom and equality would be achieved in America. King’s words resonated across the world, becoming symbolic of the civil rights struggle and are still widely quotes today. He predominately spoke about the economic gulf between black and white and the poverty that many African-Americans faced in the USA.

‘I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed – we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

‘I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.’

‘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.’

A year after he delivered the speech, he became the youngest man, at 35, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. He continued fighting for civil rights and against poverty until an assassin’s bullet ended his life on April 4, 1968. Four days later, U.S. Congressman John Conyers introduced legislation providing for a federal holiday remembering King. Coretta Scott King, his widow, founded the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center in Atlanta, and in 1969 it began holding annual celebrations of King’s birthday (January 15).

From Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Conejo Valley, we hope that you and your children celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day remembering King and dreaming up your own goals! For information on all of our clubs and programs, visit us here.