Martin Luther King Jr. Day

  • Published
  • By SSgt Layne Jackson
  • 17th Training Wing Equal Opportunity Office

Although Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day off, we challenge you to view it as a day on, a day to look back on the way things were just a mere 60 years ago.  You’re only a simple Google or YouTube search away from seeing the struggles that Dr. King and other oppressed Americans went through during that time in our history.  Take time to appreciate the partnerships, friendships, and relationships that we have been afforded because of the efforts made by Dr. King and other likeminded people who sacrificed time, livelihoods, and well-being to ensure that future generations wouldn’t have to grow up in the not-so-fair world they grew up in. 

The list of Dr. King’s accomplishments towards civil rights are plenty and bountiful, and are too many to list in this short piece.  We encourage you to delve deeper into the life, accomplishments, and impacts that Dr. King has made, not only in this country, but the world as a whole.  

  • Brought major civil rights activities and efforts to the public forefront.
  • Emphasized and encouraged the importance of non-violent protest and resistance.
  • Provided leadership to the African-American civil rights movement.
  • Advocated for nonviolent protest in the Memphis sanitation worker strike.
  • Provided leadership in the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955.
  • Instrumental in establishing the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, which was a civil rights organization that supported the philosophy of non-violence.
  • Delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington in 1963.
  • Influenced the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – which banned discrimination in employment and public accommodations based on "race, color, religion, or national origin."    
  • Influenced the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - This act restored and protected the right to vote.
  • Influenced the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965 – which allows immigration from groups other than those from the traditional European countries.
  • Influenced the Fair Housing Act of 1968 – which banned housing discrimination for sales/rentals.

Lastly, although it is a day of remembrance, take the time to look forward and think about what it is that you can do to ensure that not only do we not go backwards on the progress we’ve made thus far, but we further advance and bridge the gaps of inequality that still exist to this day.  We have come a long way in this country in regards to civil rights, but we have a long way to go until we are all truly and unequivocally equal.  It would be unfair to expect or task someone to step up and be the next Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but if we all step up and chip in, the efforts of 1% of 100 people far outweigh the efforts of 100% of one individual. So, get out and celebrate the day with your fellow man.  Take the time to get to know someone you don’t know much about. Take the time to meet someone new.

This day is about unity!  Although it is your day off to spend however you see fit, I implore you to make the most of the day and live it to fullest meaning and purpose.  Remember! Celebrate! Act!  A Day On, Not a Day Off!