Through the week of Jan. 18 we will celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and honor the memory of this civil rights pioneer who dared to dream.
Dr. King followed the non-violent protest philosophies of Gandhi and constantly reminded his followers that their fight for equality would be victorious if they did not resort to bloodshed. Between 1957 and 1968, Dr. King traveled over six million miles and gave over 2,500 speeches, while writing five books in support of civil rights and equality for all Americans.
On August 23, 1963, more than 250,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C. where Dr. King led a peaceful march to the Capitol Building to support the passing of laws that guaranteed every American equal civil rights. It was on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that Dr. King delivered his legendary speech later entitled “I Have a Dream.”
During his crusade, Dr. King was awarded five honorary degrees and named “Man of the Year” by “Time Magazine” in 1963. At the age of 35, he became the youngest man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and donated his award of $54,123 to the civil rights movement.
On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, this man of peace was violently assassinated.
Through the 1980s, controversy surrounded the idea of a Martin Luther King Day. While many petitioned the President to make Jan. 15 a federal legal holiday, others still opposed the idea. Finally, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan declared the third Monday in January a federal legal holiday, commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday.
“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. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but the content of their character…”
Every year the Camden County Freeholders award Freedom Medals to residents who live by Dr. King’s words. They are recognized for contributing to the betterment of their community through their unselfish dedication of time and talent. We are proud that this year, Deputy Mayor Jason Ravitz and Committeewoman Michelle Nocito, are recipients of Freedom Medals.
We should all strive to live Dr. King’s dream!