Even here in St. Kitts & Nevis, local media organizations paid respect to Dr. King by highlighting his speeches and the well known efforts of his peaceful revolution for equal rights and justice.
The day which is a public holiday in the US, was used as a time of reflection and forecast, given the struggles that remain, in this large and powerful nation, for greater opportunities and unity, in a country that has become so divided, along political lines.
The holiday is used to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background. In some educational institutions, the day was used to teach students about the work of Martin Luther King and the struggles against racial segregation and racism.
Most non-essential government departments and some schools were closed. Those that remained open used the occasion to highlight the teachings of Dr. King.
The federal government has encouraged Americans to celebrate the day by volunteering their time and services for community projects.
Martin Luther King was an important civil rights activist. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His most famous address was the “I Have a Dream” speech.
He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.
In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honour him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions lead the campaign for the federal holiday. It was endorsed in 1976.
Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single “Happy Birthday” and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000.