A Dream that Continues Today

Martin Luther King, Jr.

In January, our nation recognizes the birthday of one of the most visible advocates of nonviolent and direct action for social change, Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK).  Dr. King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became an official federal holiday on November 2, 1983, when President Ronald Reagan signed the bill passed by Congress.

Over the next eight years, states began recognizing the federal holiday as a holiday as well.  In 1994, in keeping with Dr. King’s legacy of advocacy and assistance for others, Congress designated the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service, making it the only federal holiday so observed. The MLK Day of Service is a featured part of United We Serve (http://www.serve.gov/index.asp), the President’s call for Americans from all walks of life to work together to toward solutions to our most pressing national problems.  The national holiday celebration occurs on the third Monday in January. On October 16, 2011, a monument to Dr. King was dedicated in Washington, D.C., making his the first on the prestigious National Mall honoring a civilian.

In the spirit of Dr. King’s commitment to equality, state human rights protection agencies, such as the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR), were created. Established in 1958, the MCHR’s goal is to foster mutual understanding and eliminate discrimination through education and outreach and the enforcement of the Missouri Human Rights Act.  MCHR is authorized to investigate complaints in employment, public accommodations, and housing – if the reason for the alleged discrimination is based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, disability, age (40-69 in employment only), and familial status (families with children under the age of 18 in housing only). If you believe you have been discriminated against due a protected category, contact MCHR at (877) 781-4236 or take this quick assessment to determine if the MHRA applies to your situation.

The MLK Day of Service is “A Day ON, Not a Day Off” and is the perfect time for Americans to actively work toward solutions to social problems and move our nation closer to achieving its ideals, to which Dr. King’s vision challenged us. MLK Day is a national celebration, but its emphasis is on local action, working close to home to create a better, more equitable and just society.  You can celebrate MLK Day by participating any of these or many other inspiring events around our state:

Central Missouri Events

Eastern Missouri Events

Western Missouri Events

Northeast Missouri Event

Southwest Missouri Event

Southeast Missouri Event

Statewide Events

Additional MLK Day activities across the state are listed here.

National Resources

For more information on Dr. King, his life and legacy of social justice, visit the website of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.  The center, begun in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. King, is located in Atlanta, Georgia.  Through programming and partnerships, the center is a living memorial to the social ideals of Dr. King, who challenged us to live up to the highest ideals expressed in our nation’s founding documents.

However you choose to celebrate our newest national holiday, we encourage you to seek ways you can work in your community to help make our America a place of freedom, opportunity, fairness and justice, which are the hallmarks of the American dream.  Enjoy the holiday and do something good in your community – remember to support the MLK Day of Service as “A Day ON, not a Day Off.”