Civil Rights Day, or Martin Luther King Jr. Day, is an annual observance marked on the third Monday in January, and takes place on January 16 this year. It celebrates the movement started by Martin Luther King Jr. to end racism and inequality in the U.S. This movement was a decade-long campaign by the African Americans for their rights and to put an end to legalized racial segregation by the ‘white’ people against people of ‘any other color.’ This campaign led by Martin Luther King Jr. and others ended legalized discrimination in the United States against people of color.
History of Civil Rights Day
America was inhabited by the Aztecs, Mayans, and the Incas before the Europeans came in while searching for spice. Instead, when they found silver and gold they decided to stay and build their kingdoms in the new territory while committing genocide against the natives. When people from other areas learned of the riches of this land, they too traveled to America but what happened to them? They were sold as slaves, particularly those transported from Africa to labor for the Europeans.
This slavery continued and rose to its peak during the American Civil War when conditions for anyone who was not white and European were brutal. Slavery as an institution came to an end with the Civil War’s conclusion, but for people of color, it was likely merely a change in the status quo. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution were ratified during the Reconstruction Era, and every slave was emancipated and granted the constitutional status of a free American citizen. However, this was not how the rest of the world saw them.
Despite the constitution’s promise of equal civil rights, African Americans were disproportionately targeted for social discrimination, followed by persons of other races such as the Red Indians. Even though the Civil War ended in 1865, civil rights campaigns had to begin a century later to bring about any probable change in the living situations of such people. Martin Luther King Jr. founded the Civil Rights Movement in 1954 to eradicate racial segregation, discrimination, intolerance, and brutality.
The movement lasted 14 years, in which it not only gained support from the entire African American community but also from other racial minorities living in the U.S. During this time, five federal laws and one constitutional amendment (24th amendment) were passed by Congress and many federal institutions were set up to end the racial conflicts.
On April 4, 1968, while planning a national occupation of Washington D.C. in a Poor People’s Campaign, he was assassinated allegedly by James Earl Ray. Riots followed in every state and many conspiracy theories emerged, but the entire point was and always has been to get equal civil rights for all citizens of America without segregation and discrimination. Since 1971, Civil Rights Day is celebrated as a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and his efforts in the Civil Rights Movement.
Civil Rights Day timeline
The American Civil War begins between the Union and Confederacy.
Slavery is abolished as part of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments in the U.S. Constitution.
Martin Luther King Jr. triggers the Civil Rights Movement to end racial discrimination and intolerance
President Reagan announces M.L.K. as a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.
Civil Rights Day FAQs
Why is Civil Rights Day celebrated?
Civil Rights Day is a reminder to the world that every human being possesses equal civil rights, and no one has the right to incite racism and intolerance towards a person or a community based on their color, religion, or ethnicity.
Was Malcolm X also a Civil Rights Activist?
Malcolm X was a black African American leader who was one of the most prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. His belief was to protect oneself from racism and white aggression by “all means necessary.”
Why was King assassinated?
M.L.K. was killed out of hatred and racism. James Earl Ray, the assassin, was an infamous racist and had been planning the murder for quite some time.
How to Observe Civil Rights Day
Understand that everyone is equal and has equal rights. Curb your intolerance towards people of other races.
Understand we are all humans first
If one just understands that we are not made superior by the color of our skin and that we are nothing but human beings, we can put an end to a lot of baseless discrimination this Civil Rights Day
Arrange a gathering of people of all races
Invite your friends from all colors to gather at a place and interact with each other regardless of their ethnicity, color, and religion. Encourage them to make friends based on personal values, not color.
5 Facts About Civil Rights Day Everyone Should Know
King’s birth name
King’s birth name was Michael and not Martin.
Mass protests and disobedience
The Civil Rights Movement saw some of the longest civil disobedience movements and sit-ins as a form of protest against racism.
Holiday all over the U.S.
2001 saw for the first time when all fifty states agreed to celebrate Civil Rights Day as a national holiday
The Nobel Peace Prize
King won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring peace in 1964.
Movements across the globe
The Civil Rights Movement in America inspired movements of a similar nature all across the globe and the results were mostly similar.
Why Civil Rights Day is Important
Understanding where we are stuck
This is the 21st century, the age of booming technology and rapid growth, and we are creating a metaverse, yet we are trapped in our useless racist opinions. It is time to let go of this baseless hatred and work together for unlimited growth.
Anyone who feels they are being discriminated against or are being mistreated needs to know that he or she has every right to receive the same opportunities and respect that every U.S. citizen has constitutionally. No one has the right to racially abuse or disrespect you.
Time for an everlasting peace
There has been enough bloodshed and violence in the name of racial superiority. Do your part to end discrimination and usher in peace. Be a good civil servant and be kind to those around you.
Civil Rights Day dates