Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

preacher man
tanka with kigo
Annette Marie Hyder

honeyed scorpions
paired with loaves of righteousness
fall forth from his lips

there is fire to drink — and words
like fish feed the multitude

Celebrating his birth

Civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be 80 years old, had he lived past 39.

He is perhaps most famous for his “I Have a Dream” speech, given in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He put aside the written speech that he was reading from and spontaneously delivered his stirring paean to freedom.

Partial video of I Have a Dream speech via YouTube:

Man of the Year for 1963

In the wake of the speech and march, King was named Man of the Year by TIME magazine for 1963.

In 2002, the Library of Congress honored the speech by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry.

You probably already know that he was a contemporary of Ghandi and of Kennedy, and in 1964, he was the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

But, did you know that:

According to the Washington Post:

  • His father and grandfather were ministers of Ebenezer Baptist Church.
    Young Martin made his closest childhood friends at Ebenezer’s Sunday
    school and later said the school helped him learn how to get along with
  • His mother was a teacher who taught him to read before he
    started school. He began attending Yonge Street Elementary School when
    he was 5, but he wasn’t supposed to start until he was 6. So the school
    told him to stay home until he was a year older.
  • His mom taught him how to play the piano. He liked playing football and baseball as well.
  • He talked about being a firefighter when he grew up. As a child he visited Fire Station No. 6, the first fire station in Atlanta to be integrated.
  • He was a great student. In fact, he skipped ninth grade.
    And in 11th grade he scored so well on a college entrance exam that he
    skipped 12th grade and went straight to Morehouse College. He was 15 years old.

A day on, not a day off

There’s a focus on “A day on, not a day off” for celebrating Martin Luther King Day. According to The Daily Planet:

The effort has strong leadership from the top. In a press release, Michelle Obama explains:
Dr. King taught us to live a life of service, and he led by example. He once said:

“If you want to be important — wonderful. If you want to be recognized — wonderful. If you want to be great — wonderful. But, recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness.”


Copy of speech with audio link at americanrhetoric.com
Martin Luther King resources link at the University of Minnesota
Martin Luther King Wikipedia page
Martin Luther King videos at The History Channel

this poster as part of a Diversity Poster Set, including
Indian People of Minnesota, African Americans in Minnesota, Latinos y
Latinas en Minnesota
and Asians in Minnesota.

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