The Birthday of Martin Luther King is a U.S. federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of January. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is the only non-president to have a national holiday dedicated in his honor. Born January 15, 1929, King was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39.
In 2023, the Birthday of Martin Luther King is celebrated on Monday, January 16.
Many people see this three-day holiday as a day off for shopping. To commemorate the life of the civil rights leader more appropriately, you might consider a “day on” spent in service to the community. Find out more about King, his contributions below. Seattle events celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. can be found in the calendar list.
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About the life of Dr. King
Some of the significant events of his remarkable life are the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, his leadership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1957-1968, his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, and his influence on the landmark 1964 U.S. Civil Rights Act.
The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia contains the world’s largest repository of source materials on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the American Civil Rights Movement. Among the collection is information about the organization he co-founded and over 200 oral history interviews.
Dr. King lead the American Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until 1968, advocating for non-violent protest. He is perhaps best known for the power of his words. A few notable examples include his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize speech, his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”—the manifesto of Dr. King’s philosophy that is studied today in universities worldwide.
Finally, his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech (YouTube video) delivered at the Lincoln Memorial during the “March on Washington” advocated for jobs and freedom.
Resources to learn more about Dr. King
Listed below are parks, online resources, and videos about Dr. King.
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Memorial Park
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Memorial Park (just south of the Amy Yee Tennis Center) is designed around a black granite ‘mountain’. The dramatic, thirty-foot sculpture was inspired by the civil rights leader’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, made the day before he was assassinated in 1968. The park is located at 2200 MLK Way S.
In fall of 2018, the park name was modified to include the words “Civil Rights” to honor the work of community leaders and organizations in Seattle who work on issues of social justice, and to celebrate the contributions of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders.
BlackPast.org online reference center
BlackPast.org is an online reference center that might be considered the “Google” of African American history. The site contains with a wealth of materials on African American history.
The collection includes an online encyclopedia of over 4,000 entries, the complete transcript of more than 300 speeches by African Americans, over 140 full text documents, bibliographies, and timelines, plus gateway pages with links to digital archive collections, African American museums and research centers, genealogical research websites, and more than 200 other website resources on African American and global African history.
It also features a Perspectives Online Magazine which features commentary of important but little-known events in black history often written by the individuals who participated in or witnessed them. To date more than 100 articles have appeared.
Historical Seattle Channel Community Videos
2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Day with Angela Davis. City and community leaders, city employees, and the public welcome activist, scholar, author, and keynote speaker Angela Davis to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. It was the City of Seattle’s third annual Martin Luther King Unity Day celebration.
2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration & Rally at Garfield High School. Community members rally at Garfield High School to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr with music, dance and poetry. Local leaders and activists such as Durell Green, Estella Ortega, Aneelah Afzali, and others speak about the history of Seattle’s MLK Celebration, and tackle issues regarding diversity, faith, bigotry, and discrimination.
MLK Day event calendar
The following events will honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Some are fun, some are thoughtful, and others are thought-provoking.