As the national figure of the civil rights movement in America, the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. has been celebrated since 1983 when President Ronald Reagan made the third Monday in January an official U.S. holiday.

King, a Baptist minister and social activist, mounted the crusade to end segregation in Montgomery, Alabama when Detroit’s own Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the “colored” section of the city bus.

From the mid-1950s until 1968 when he was assassinated, King led nonviolent marches and spoke to thousands of Americans at rallies and demonstrations.

His commitment to social justice resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This act authorized the federal government to enforce desegregation of public accommodations and outlaw discrimination in publicly owned facilities. For this, King received the Nobel Peace Prize for 1964.

The following year, his actions led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Today, we reflect on Martin Luther King’s life and his unwavering dedication to unite Americans as one society.

Content provided by Oakland University



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