January 15, 2020
Day 15 of 366
January 15th is the fifteenth day of the year. It is Arbor Day in Egypt, Armed Forces Day in Nigeria, and Army Day in India.
Historical items of note:
- In 1559, Elizabeth I was crowned as the Queen of England.
- In 1870, Harper’s Weekly published “A Live Jackass Kicking a Dead Lion” by Thomas Nast. This political cartoon was the first time that the Democratic Party in the United States was symbolized with a donkey.
- In 1889, The Coca-Cola Company, then known as the Pemberton Medicine Company, was incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia.
- In 1892, James Naismith published the rules of basketball.
- In 1913, actor Lloyd Bridges was born.
- In 1927, Phyllis Coates was born. She portrayed Lois Lane in the live-action Superman productions from 1951 to 1953, and Lois Lane’s mother in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
- In 1943, The Pentagon was dedicated in Arlington, Virginia.
- In 1948, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre premiered. The film starred Humphrey Bogart, was directed by John Huston, and was based on the novel by B. Traven.
- In 1967, the first Super Bowl was played. Hosted in Los Angeles, California, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.
- In 1975, Space Mountain opened in Disneyland.
- In 1981, Hill Street Blues premiered on NBC.
- In 2001, Wikipedia was brought online.
In 1929, Martin Luther King Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was an American Christian minister, leader in the Civil Rights Movement, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
He graduated from Morehouse College with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, then attended Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania where he graduated with a Master of Divinity in 1951. He earned a Ph.D. from Boston University in 1955, the same year that the Montgomery bus boycotts started thanks to the courage of Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks. The boycotts lasted for 385 days, during which Dr. King’s house was bombed and he was arrested, but the campaign ended with a district court ruling that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses. This elevated King as a national figure and spokesman for the civil rights movement.
From there, Dr. King was part of the founding team for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which harnessed the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct non-violent protests. Dr. King believed that organized, non-violent protest against the systems of oppression would lead to extensive media coverage of their cause. This led to several well-known movements in the 1960s, including marches and sit-ins. In particular, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 highlighted one of Dr. King’s most recognized speeches: “I Have a Dream“.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
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 one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
The legacy and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is far too extensive to cover in this post alone. One of the most solemn and eye-opening places I have ever visited is the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park in Atlanta, Georgia. In a day, it tells his story in detail and challenges you to live his legacy in your everyday life. I have been there three times, and it shapes me a little bit more each visit.
Dr. King visited Memphis, Tennessee in late March, 1968. He delivered the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address on April 3rd. On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated by a lone gunman at the Lorraine Motel. He was only 39 years old.
His death sparked a nationwide wave of race riots but within days of his death, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Starting in 1971, cities took up the charge of celebrating Dr. King’s legacy. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan established a national holiday in his honor. President George H.W. Bush made a proclamation in 1992 that it would be on the third Monday of January every year, near the time of Dr. King’s birthday. On January 17, 2000, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in all fifty states.
The earliest day on which it can fall is January 15th, and the latest is January 21st. In 2020, it will be on January 20th.
I challenge you to take a few moments in the following days to read about this inspirational man and his legacy.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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