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On Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

By DR. CHRISTOPHER BUSEY, VP, DEI & Community Impact | USL , 01/15/24, 8:00AM EST


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is globally recognized as a public intellectual and champion for racial and economic justice.  

While his iconic 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech is deeply etched into the nation's collective cultural memory, Dr. King delivered numerous other watershed orations such as “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” from April 4, 1967, and “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” delivered April 3, 1968 – the day before he was assassinated in Memphis.  

In addition to his public speaking, Dr. King also wrote a number of essays and books on the topic of racial justice and civil rights, including Why We Can’t Wait and Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? 

Dr. King, his work, and his words remain a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement. But it is important to remember that he was not a lone advocate. 

As historic images of the1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, illustrate, Dr. King worked alongside and was supported by many individuals and collectives, such as Bayard Rustin, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Ella Baker, Fannie Lou Hammer, the Freedom Riders, and numerous multiracial youth and university groups. They do not have holidays named after them, but their efforts advocating for racial justice during the mid-20th Century Freedom Movement were vital to advancing racial progress. 

In recognizing the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, we encourage all to observe it not as a day off, but as a “day on.” We urge everyone to engage in community service initiatives, especially those that are related to advancing racial progress. Build a common understanding across our communities. Go deeper into the history and legacy of Dr. King and others. 

Below are some resources to provide further information regarding Dr. King and significance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 


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