The Importance Of Martin Luther King Jr.

Black American civil rights leader Martin Luther King (1929 - 1968) addresses crowds during the March On Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, where he gave his I Have A Dream speech.   (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

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Black American civil rights leader Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) addresses crowds during the March On Washington at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC, where he gave his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

Genevie Fuentes , Reporter

      Every year, on January 20, everybody gets a day off from school. Some people may not pay much attention to the significance behind it and think that this is just  an extra day to catch up on what you needed to catch up on. However Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an important event because he helped us gain equality. He was a very strong advocate for our equal rights and to stop segregation. Even though at times it may have been very difficult he still did it. We celebrate him and gave him this holiday because he strongly fought to end everything that he thought was wrong. No matter how bad it got, he never gave up and he continued to helped people

      Martin Luther King Jr., was born on January 15, 1929. He graduated high school at the age of 15 and then went on to get his bachelor’s degree at Morehouse College. He was a strong advocate and leader for the Civil Rights Movement. King wouldn’t use violence for his protest instead he often led peaceful  protests. When King turned 35 he was named the youngest man to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. King worked hard to gain equality for everyone and stop racial discrimination. King gave his famous “I Have A Dream” speech which sparked the start of ending things, however on April 4, 1968, while leading one of his many protests,  he was assassinated and passed away. He was such an important person that there is a holiday named after him. He encouraged equality for every citizen and he did it peacefully. 

      When it comes to today’s society, there is no correct answer to whether we are equal. In some ways we are and some we’re not. We have come a long way from the time Martin Luther King Jr. was alive and what he fought for.  For example, he fought to end segregation. Today there is no longer segregation or laws keeping races apart like the Jim Crow laws. Comparing that time to today, I’d say we are equal. In those times, two races couldn’t even sit side by side from each other. We’ve grown as individuals and as a whole, to come together. It is important for us to not let what happened then come back to happen now. 

      There were lots of controversial things that occurred during the time of segregation that we don’t have to face today. For example, in those times, kids couldn’t even go to school and mix in with different races. Today, we celebrate our different cultural backgrounds and learn about them. We are able to express and acknowledge our heritage and not feel ashamed by doing so. There are no more laws preventing two different races to sit, hangout, or be friends with each other. This just shows how much society has grown. In those times,  people would not have been able to celebrate their cultural backgrounds. Today we can. Everyone is free to go wherever they want. There’s no more signs saying how one race can eat here and the other can’t. We all get the same service. And we can all vote now too. Everyone 18 or over is allowed to vote. In those times some people would make it impossible to do so. They would make up impossible tests that people couldn’t pass. Today, everyone and anyone no matter what race or gender can vote with no obstacles. 

      Today’s communities have done a great job in celebrating each other’s different cultural backgrounds. We continue to celebrate them everyday. Learning and talking about our heritage has also helped a lot today.  At Radford High School, we annually celebrate our differences with Multicultural Day. Multicultural Day is basically all of us celebrating and learning about other’s backgrounds. There is food that you can buy that comes from different heritages and there is music and live performances. In classes from elementary to high school you learn about the time Martin Luther King Jr., was alive and everything he contributed to end segregation. 

      We learn about the history of the world so that way we can prevent it from ever repeating. We’ve learned not to let it get back to that point.  Martin Luther King Jr., died so that we can have equality. He didn’t like how things were so he took a stand against people to make it right. Even though it may have been hard at some points, he never gave up. King paved the way for equality, he went on so many marches and worked hard to have things the way they are today. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” I believe that he lived up to that quote. Considering everything he did, he never let anything stop him from sticking up for believing what is right. As I said before, when talking about if we’re all equal, it’s not a definite answer. There’s of course things that still may not be equal, but looking back from that time we’ve all grown from it. In today’s society we no longer degrade or attack other people’s races but embrace them and express our different races for making us the people who we are today.