Born on January 15th, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the iconic social activist who played a key role in the American Civil Rights movement, up until his assassination in 1968. Inspired by advocates such as Mahatma Gandhi, King paved the way for nonviolent, peaceful protests during a time of unrest and violent retaliation. King faced criticism from clergy leaders in Birmingham, Alabama because they saw him as an outsider and an agitator, and when King did not refrain from his peaceful protests in Birmingham, he was arrested for civil disobedience. While in jail, he wrote a letter explaining why “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Letter From a Birmingham Jail became one of the most important texts of the Civil Rights Movement.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. was the driving force behind events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington, which helped bring about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

During the March on Washington on August 28, 1963, King delivered one of his most memorable contributions to the Civil Rights Movement — his inconic I Have a Dream speech, drawing a crowd of around 250,000 to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. He shed light on the injustices African-Americans faced across the country.

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In 1983, members of Congress, as well as President Ronald Reagan, signed a bill creating a U.S. federal holiday in honor of King which is observed on the third Monday of January.

Today, King is remembered for his perseverance through the hardships he had to face to bring about such landmark legislation. We can keep King’s actions alive by mirroring his perseverance for what we believe is right, and by keeping our righteous principles intact.

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