Today we celebrate the national holiday honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Presidential Proclamation -- Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, 2012
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., FEDERAL HOLIDAY, 2012
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
On a hot summer day nearly half a century ago, an African American preacher with no official title or rank gave voice to our Nation's deepest aspirations, sharing his dream of an America that ensured the true equality of all our people. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a movement that would push our country toward a more perfect Union.
At a time when our Nation was sharply divided, Dr. King called on a generation of Americans to be "voices of reason, sanity, and understanding amid the voices of violence, hatred, and emotion." His example stirred men and women of all backgrounds to become foot soldiers for justice, and his leadership gave them the courage to refuse the limitations of the day and fight for the prospect of tomorrow. Because these individuals showed the resilience to stand firm in the face of the fiercest resistance, we are the benefactors of an extraordinary legacy of progress.
Today, Dr. King is memorialized on the National Mall where he once spoke, a symbol of how far our Nation has come and a testament to the quiet heroes whose names may never appear in history books, but whose selflessness brought about change few thought possible. Dr. King's memorial reminds us that while the work of realizing his remarkable dream is unending, with persistence, progress is within our reach.
On the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, we celebrate the man who fought for the America he knew was possible. Dr. King's faith in a God who loves all His children and a Nation grounded in the promise of equality would not let him rest until victory was won. As we work to meet the challenges of our time from fixing our schools so every child gets a world class education to ensuring all Americans have access to strong and secure economic opportunity let us draw strength from Dr. King's stirring affirmation that "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve." In his memory, let us continue climbing toward that Promised Land, one more fair and more just for all people.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 16, 2012, as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday. I encourage all Americans to observe this day with appropriate civic, community, and service
projects in honor of Dr. King, and to visit www.MLKDay.gov to find Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service projects across our country.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
MLK Day Legacy: John Lewis
MLK Day Legacy: Ruby Bridges
MLK Day Legacy: Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery
The President's speech at the dedication of the MLK Memorial in Washington.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation President, Harry Johnson explains the creation and meaning behind the MLK Memorial in Washington, DC.
I Have Been to the Mountaintop Full Speech
From President Lyndon B. Johnson's speech on why the Voting Rights Act should be passed:
But even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and State of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life.
Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.
And we shall overcome.
As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society.
But a century has passed, more than a hundred years, since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight.
It was more than a hundred years ago that Abraham Lincoln, a great President of another party, signed the Emancipation Proclamation, but emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.
A century has passed, more than a hundred years, since equality was promised. And yet the Negro is not equal.
A century has passed since the day of promise. And the promise is unkept.
The time of justice has now come. I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come. And when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American.
For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated, how many white families have lived in stark poverty, how many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we have wasted our energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?
So I say to all of you here, and to all in the Nation tonight, that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future.
This great, rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all: black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are the enemies and not our fellow man, not our neighbor. And these enemies too, poverty, disease and ignorance, we shall overcome.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech at Glenville High School preserved on little-known recording
Art teacher Jayne Sylvester and one of her students stumbled over a slice of history a year ago as they rummaged through cast-off items at Glenville High School's library, hunting for unusual objects to turn into artsy robots.
Inside a slim box of reel-to-reel tape, in a pile of stuff to be discarded, they found a little-known recording of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking in Glenville's auditorium on April 26, 1967. A year later, he was killed by an assassin's bullet.
Now, after being rescued from the trash heap, the recording of King's stirring speech is being readied for use as a social studies lesson at Glenville and other Cleveland schools.
The audio is at the link above.