The third Monday of every January is a very important one in the United States. It is Martin Luther King Jr. Day—a national holiday honouring the life and activism of one of the world's most famous civil rights leaders.
King's impact stretches far beyond that of the US. Along with figures like Mahatma Gandhi of India, he represents something called non-violent resistance. This is a type of protest that refuses to cause physical harm to others under any circumstance. Instead, it delivers its message through words, rallies (gatherings of people), and non-compliance—refusing to do certain things as a way of resisting.
Though King's message was one of non-violence, he and his followers had great violence done to them by those who did not like his quest, which consisted of equal rights and dignity for Black people across the country and beyond. But in spite of surveillance (watching) by authorities and the constant threat of being jailed and beaten, he carried on. Even after his assassination (murder) on April 4, 1968, his message refused to be silenced.
Today, he remains a global inspiration and icon of the importance of equality and peaceful protest. For that reason, this American holiday is one that is unofficially observed by many across the world.
Some links for MLK Day
To help further today's honouring of King, we are linking to the many posts on our site where we have explored his life and influence.
Read about segregation and racism in the United States in the 1950s and 60s, as well as King's impact on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 here.
Read about one of King's most famous speeches—"I Have A Dream", which was delivered at the March on Washington in 1963—here.
Read about the events surrounding his death in 1968 here.
Though MLK is perhaps the most famous activist of his time, he was far from alone. Read about the life of John Lewis—an activist friend of King's who later became an American congressman—here.
For more on the history of anti-Black racism in North America, there is lots of info to be found here.
King's influence and importance stretches beyond Black communities. This story explores how racism today affects many minorities in similar ways in Canada.
Read about the history of Juneteenth, a day honouring the end of slavery in the United States, here.
And finally, you can read about the history of Emancipation Day—the ending of slavery—in Canada here.