Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered
King is remembered for his important contributions to the civil rights movement in America.
ATLANTA – Many across the U.S. on Monday will honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through marches, tributes and volunteering in an effort to improve their communities.
The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday is observed each year on the third Monday in January. King, who would have turned 93 on Jan. 15, was a pastor and civil rights leader who dedicated his life to achieving racial equality — a goal he said was inseparable from alleviating poverty and stopping war.
King helped organize rallies and boycotts, including the successful Montgomery bus boycott, and advocated for peaceful protests. King delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
He was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, as he stood outside Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel. He was 39.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks before a crowd of 25,000 in front of the Montgomery, Alabama state capital building on March 25, 1965, in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images)
Today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday designated as a day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer and improve their communities, according to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. In observance of the national holiday, schools, government agencies, businesses and banks are closed.
King’s example and his insistence on nonviolent protest continue to influence many activists pushing for civil rights and social change today. Here are various events being held on Monday across the U.S. in honor of the late civil rights hero.
MLK Day 2022 marches and tributes across the U.S.
In Atlanta, the annual Martin Luther King Jr. service at King’s old congregation, Ebenezer Baptist Church, is being held at 10 a.m. ET and will be streamed live on FOX 5 Atlanta’s website. Speakers will include U.S. Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Director Marcia Fudge.
The Rev. Natosha Reid Rice and Pastor Sam Collier will preside over the service. This year’s keynote speaker is the Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, presiding bishop and primate of The Episcopal Church. Musical performances are also planned, including Keke Wyatt, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Pastor Mike Jr., Le’Andria Johnson, and Emanne Beasha.
First lady Dr. Jill Biden will also be in attendance for the ceremonies, according to the King Center.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday March and Rally is also planned for Monday afternoon in downtown Atlanta. The march is scheduled to end on Auburn Avenue in front of The King Center, where a rally is planned. The King Center is also working with the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda and Youth Service America on a voter registration drive Monday in the city.
In Washington, D.C., some of King’s family will lead a march for peace through the nation’s capital in remembrance of the slain civil rights leader. At 10 a.m. local time, the march will head toward the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge where attendees will be joined by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and other civil rights activists.
In Tampa, the MLK Day parade is making a return after being put on hold last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. WWE star Titus O’Neil will serve as the grand marshall of the parade hosting all different types of floats. In nearby St. Petersburg, celebrations began over the weekend and will culminate with a parade to also celebrate King.
In Los Angeles, the premier annual event to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day — the Kingdom Day Parade in South L.A. — was been canceled due to the surge of COVID-19 cases. But a number of other MLK-related events are still scheduled for Monday, including a free, COVID rapid testing event being held by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE-CA) Kingdom Day Parade Committee.
At 11 a.m. local time, the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice and other groups will host an MLK Day “Caravan for Social Justice,” to “reflect the true spirit of Dr. King” at the intersection of Western Avenue and MLK Boulevard. The city of Carson will also present its annual tribute to King with a celebration in the evening featuring songs, dance and inspirational words.
MLK Day volunteer opportunities 2022 near you
In his memory, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service in which Americans are encouraged to step up to make our communities more equitable.
The annual event is an opportunity for Americans to answer the call famously posed by King, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
There are many local MLK Day service project opportunities that can be found by zip code on the AmeriCorps website, the federal agency which leads the MLK Day of Service and the nation’s volunteer efforts.
How Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday became a federal holiday
Though King lost his life in April 1968, it would be 15 years before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day would be declared a federal holiday in the U.S. — and another three years before it would be observed.
Starting in 1968, the year King was assassinated and less than five years after his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., introduced legislation for a federal holiday to commemorate King. Conyers went on to reintroduce the legislation in every session from 1968 to 1983.
President Ronald Reagan finally signed the holiday into law in 1983, with observance on the third Monday of January each year. The holiday was first observed in 1986.
Before the day was officially recognized on the federal level, some U.S. states recognized holidays in honor of King. Connecticut did so in 1973. Illinois adopted a commemoration day in 1969 and also made it a paid holiday in 1973. Other states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays, according to FOX 5 Atlanta.
It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. FOX 5 Atlanta and the Associated Press contributed.