Martin Luther King Day celebrations

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Today we commemorate the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was born on January 15, 1929 and was tragically murdered on April 4, 1968.

He spent his adult life pushing for civil rights for African Americans and the rights of all poor people of all races and religions. He was just 26 years old when, in 1955, he took part in and helped lead the Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott. he then helped lead the Selma to Montgomery March, demanding equal rights in Alabama. The beating the marchers took from local authorities woke up America to the brutality of segregation.

Martin Luther King, Jr with President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 when Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Wikipedia)

King had been at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement for eight years, having helped found the Souther Christian Leadership Conference, when he gave his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech at the 1963 March On Washington, that brought over 300,000 people to the nation’s capitol to demand equality throughout all 50 states.

In 1968 he began the Poor People’s Campaign with a planned march on Washington, D.C. to demand economic justice for the poor, working or not. Sadly, he was gunned down before the march could take place. The Rev. Ralph Abernathy took King’s place as the leader of the movement.

For over 50 years Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has been a symbol of peace, equality, justice and nonviolent disobedience as a means of changing policy. As a result, he is one of the most quoted people in history. There are many appropriate thoughts from Dr. King we could share, but this one seems to sum it all up in the simplest of terms: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ”

There are many celebrations honoring Dr. King around the Los Angeles area, beginning with the Kingdom Day Parade at Leimert Park that marches down Martin Luther King and Western Boulevards. It begins at 11 a.m. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is honoring Dr. King with a free day at the museum. There is also a celebration at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park.

And we can honor Dr. King today by just being kind to one another.

Top photo of Dr. King at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (Wikipedia)