On April 4, 1968, America lost a piece of its heart.
Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., by James Earl Ray, setting off a barage of riots, mourning and anger. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King Jr. Day was later enacted on the federal level by a signature from then-President Ronald Reagan, and hundreds of streets across the nation have been named in his honor. In 2011, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated.
As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year on Monday, Jan. 21, let’s take a moment to reflect on the life of a man who dedicated his work to bringing people together, as opposed to tearing them apart. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for utilizing non-violent forms of resistance to combat often-violent acts of racism. That came on the heels of his efforts helping to organize the 1963 March on Washington, and right before organizing the Selma-to-Montgomery marches in 1965.
King only lived to be 39 years old, but he left a mark that will be felt in this world in perpetuity. We all benefit from his efforts, and his ability to practice non-violent protest.