Monday, Jan. 17,  is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It is a federal and state holiday so government offices, post offices, banks, courthouses, and most schools will be closed.

King was the young pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, near the Alabama State Capitol Complex. At the time there were no Blacks in the Alabama Legislature, and few Blacks could vote in Alabama elections.

King, along with Rosa Parks and others, essentially started the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery area churches.

Laws were in place in Montgomery and across the South that prevented Blacks from using Whites’ water fountains, bathrooms, schools, cafeterias, etc. Housing discrimination was the norm. Job discrimination was rampant. Interracial marriage was illegal.

Montgomery Bus Boycott

Blacks were most of the riders of the buses, but they had to ride in the back of the bus and allow White people to ride in the front. This was the law at the time.

Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a White man and King organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned that “Jim Crow” law, bringing the bus boycott to a successful conclusion.

King, along with other influential Black pastors, organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) that worked with the NAACP and other faith leaders to advance the cause of civil rights.

I have a dream...

King organized a massive civil rights event in Washington D.C. where he delivered his "I have a dream" speech, captivating the nation. King was jailed in Birmingham and led the Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery after an earlier attempted march led by John R. Lewis and other civil rights leaders was broken up by Alabama State Troopers on the orders of Gov. George C. Wallace. He received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work battling against segregation and promoting equal rights using the nonviolent tactics promoted by Mahatma Gandhi in the struggle for Indian independence from Great Britain.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was only 39 years old.

The now Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church planned its 47th Martin Luther King Jr Birthday Celebration for Monday at 9 a.m. Rev. Courtney D. Meadows, Hutchinson Missionary Baptist Church, was scheduled to be the keynote speaker.

There will be limited seating. Masks are required for those attending in person and the 6-foot rule will be enforced. The event will also be live on Facebook.

There are numerous other MLK day events around the state.

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