This coming Monday, January 17th, 2022, is MLK Day, a federal holiday that recognizes the birthdate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and commemorates his life and work as a civil rights activist and leader. On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed H.R. 3706, a bill that established Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal public holiday on the third Monday of January. Each president since President Reagan has issued a proclamation recognizing MLK Day as a day to acknowledge and celebrate the visionary work of Dr. King.

The 2022 theme for MLK Day is “It Starts With Me: Shifting Priorities to Create the Beloved Community.” MLK Day is often celebrated by considering how we can take action to educate ourselves and serve our communities for the goal of greater equity and justice for all Americans. The MLK Day of Service is an opportunity for communities to work towards creating the “Beloved Community” spoken of by Dr. King, and the National Civil Rights Museum of Memphis will be hosting a day of free virtual and in-person events that will feature musical performances, exhibitions, and educational presentations.

A prolific writer and orator of world-famous speeches that continue to inspire generations, Dr. King also penned dozens of sermons, prayers, letters, and lectures, as well as published four books detailing the goals of the civil rights movement. Written on April 16, 1963, just a few months before Dr. King would deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March on Washington in August 1963, his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” was a response to calls on the civil rights movement to pursue legal channels for social change, and it illustrated the urgency of the issues addressed by Dr. King and the civil rights movement. The King Library and Archives in Atlanta hosts further works, and other primary source materials related to the life and work of Dr. King and can be accessed online through the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute of Stanford University.  

Check out this past Ex Libris Juris post titled “I Have a Dream: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” for a link to a recording of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and further links to national organizations that provide resources about Dr. King’s impact on the civil rights movement in the United States and on efforts for justice around the world.