January 18th, 2010
12:58 PM ET

The meaning of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/18/mlk.jr..coretta.jpg caption="Coretta Scott King and her husband Martin Luther King, Jr."]

Coretta Scott King

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday celebrates the life and legacy of a man who brought hope and healing to America. We commemorate as well the timeless values he taught us through his example - the values of courage, truth, justice, compassion, dignity, humility and service that so radiantly defined Dr. King’s character and empowered his leadership. On this holiday, we commemorate the universal, unconditional love, forgiveness and nonviolence that empowered his revolutionary spirit.

We commemorate Dr. King’s inspiring words, because his voice and his vision filled a great void in our nation, and answered our collective longing to become a country that truly lived by its noblest principles. Yet, Dr. King knew that it wasn’t enough just to talk the talk, that he had to walk the walk for his words to be credible. And so we commemorate on this holiday the man of action, who put his life on the line for freedom and justice every day, the man who braved threats and jail and beatings and who ultimately paid the highest price to make democracy a reality for all Americans.

The King Holiday honors the life and contributions of America’s greatest champion of racial justice and equality, the leader who not only dreamed of a color-blind society, but who also lead a movement that achieved historic reforms to help make it a reality.


soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Janine from PA.

    Dr. King would be helping there however he could. I want to know why black history month is not in january. It would make sense to have it in the same month as Dr. Kings birth. Unless February was chosen for other events I am unaware of.

    January 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  2. Mari

    Dr. King would be there already, with a team of volunteers helping.

    January 18, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  3. Jeannie Hartley

    Exquisitly stated. Superb and comprehensive tribute.

    January 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
  4. Denise Barlow

    I tested my memory of Martin Luther King, Jr by quizzing my seven year old grandson. His class is studying about Mr King in their school. My question is....How much as really changed since MLK's day? Interesting thought.

    January 18, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  5. Treschanson

    It's too bad I have to work today but I'm glad I am employed. Dr. King passed away for some time but we cannot deny the problems still exist!

    January 18, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  6. Sofia

    King was an incomparable leader for racial justice. Not as well-publicized is his leadership in support of world peace and for economic justice for all.

    Read the text for his 1967 speech given in NYC's Riverside Church. It's brilliant.

    January 18, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  7. Tim Gibson

    Perhaps our congress and our senate should exam the example of King.

    January 18, 2010 at 3:18 pm |
  8. Vern Vartdal

    Favorite quote:Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter-MLKJr. Extended to politicians-the day we put focus on things that don't matter.

    January 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
  9. Tammy Christine

    He would say " We are rebuilding the city, laying one stone at a time. And there Will be a day when pain and suffering with be replaced with Unity, Peace and Joy. As we answer the need of humanity our own needs are met.

    January 18, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  10. Rare-Breed

    What would King do and say about Haiti?

    January 18, 2010 at 2:09 pm |