MLK_JrMartin Luther King, Jr. Day was first observed as an American federal holiday on Monday, January 20, 1986. In 1983, during the time that the proposal to honor King with a holiday was being promoted, the idea was frowned upon by Senators Jesse Helms and John Porter East, both of whom orchestrated a 16-day filibuster to stop the Senate from approving the holiday, disputing whether King was important enough to have been awarded with such recognition.

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Shortly after, President Ronald Reagan signed the bill that created what we now recognize as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. 28 years after its initial observance, the holiday is now observed in all 50 states.

In honor of the civil rights activist who fought to put a stop to racial inequality and dreamt of not only making a difference in just the United States, but worldwide, we present you with 20 standout quotes from his prominent “I Have A Dream” speech.

  1. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.
  2. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
  3. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
  4. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.
  5. We must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.
  6. Even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.
  7. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
  8. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
  9. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
  10. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

As a nation, we’ve come a long way since King first gave his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington. However, we’ve still got more progress to make. If we rise together to the glorious heights of meeting ‘physical force with soul force,’ we can become the nation King dreamt of us being.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

– Antionette Latrese (@_ALatrese)