Every year, we observe Victims of Violence Wholly Day on April 4. The day marks the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in Memphis in 1968. The holiday is one of three “Emancipation Days of Respect,” and the other two are “Humanitarian Day” and “Dream Day Quest and Jubilee.” It honors people who have sacrificed to change segregation laws in the U.S. and supports people who have suffered at the hands of violence. This day is set apart to communicate a message to those who engage in racial segregation. It speaks to equality for all men regardless of their race or ethnicity — it calls for a more inclusive world.
History of Victims of Violence Wholly Day
Victims of Violence Wholly Day is one of three days of respect centered around Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in Memphis on April 4, 1968. It marks his death. King was one of the leaders at the forefront of fighting racial segregation. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1929 and spent his life fighting for equality and ending racial injustice. His protests made use of non-violent and peaceful action, reflecting two of his influences: Gandhi and Jesus Christ.
King founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with other civil rights activists, leading it until his death. The Birmingham Campaign — launched by the SCLC — used boycotts, sit-ins, and marches to protest racial segregation and unfair housing practices. King was arrested, and it was from jail that he wrote a letter titled the “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” changing people’s views forever. Throughout his life, King was arrested about 30 times for civil rights activities.
In 1963, King helped organize the March on Washington and gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, one of the most famous calls for equality and freedom across history. The March on Washington helped facilitate the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. King’s focus turned to helping those in poverty during the last months of his life. So, he worked to organize the Poor People’s Campaign. Tragically, he did not see this campaign through as he was assassinated while on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.
Victims of Violence Wholly Day timeline
King is born on January 15.
King helps organize the March on Washington, where he delivers his famous "I Have a Dream" Speech.
James Earl Ray assassinates King in Tennessee.
People celebrate the first Victims of Violence Wholly Day on April 4.
Victims of Violence Wholly Day FAQs
Why do we celebrate Martin Luther King Day?
Martin Luther King Day honors the achievements of Martin Luther King.
Which states do not honor Martin Luther King Day?
Alabama and Mississippi celebrate a joint “King-Lee” day.
What colors represent Martin Luther King?
The colors representing King are yellow, white, red, brown, and black.
How to Observe Victims of Violence Wholly Day
Show solidarity with the victims of slavery and violence by wearing black. You can even ask your family and friends to do the same.
Share on social media
Share the holiday’s significance on social media to create awareness and conversation. You can talk about it on whichever platform you favor.
Donate to anti-violence organizations
Donate to organizations that work tirelessly to support people affected by violence. For instance, you could support charities or non-profit organizations that support Vietnam War Victims or people affected by violence in Syria.
5 Interesting Facts About Martin Luther King Jr.
His name was Michael, not Martin
King’s birth name was Michael King Jr., but his father was highly inspired by Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther, so he changed King’s name.
He went to college at 15
King enrolled at Morehouse College when he was 15 years old.
He became a pastor at 19
King became an ordained Baptist reverend when he was 19 years old.
He survived a previous assassination attempt
On September 20, 1958, a woman stabbed King with a seven-inch letter opener.
He was posthumously awarded
President Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded King the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.
Why Victims of Violence Wholly Day is Important
It’s a day of inclusivity
The holiday reminds us to reach out to others and embrace everyone and our differences. It helps us show that we all are equal — no matter the differences in skin color or features.
It celebrates Martin Luther King
Victims of Violence Wholly Day honors King, who became a symbol of freedom and peace through his efforts to gain equality for the African American people. The holiday commemorates his actions and unbroken faith in equality and freedom for all.
It honors those who struggle for equality
Although the holiday is held on the day King was assassinated, it honors everyone who was affected by slavery and violence — now and throughout history. It also commemorates their efforts to ensure equal rights for all Americans.
Victims of Violence Wholly Day dates