January 17, is officially designated by Congress as Martin Luther King Day, celebrating his life and achievements as an influential American civil rights leader. (Significantly, he was born in 1929 as Michael King Jr., but in 1935, his dad changed both of their names to Martin Luther to honor the great Christian reformer.)
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, being honored for his efforts to end segregation and racial discrimination without the use of violence.
January 17 is also the birthday of another significant American leader who fought for racial equality and justice: Benjamin Franklin. Although best known as a signer of the Declaration and the Constitution, he was a also a vocal social activist and one of the earliest and strongest proponents for ending slavery and securing rights for all Americans, regardless of the color of their skin.
Franklin founded and was President of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery, and he worked tirelessly in the civil rights arena throughout his life, warning that if the injustices continued in America, it would "draw down the displeasure of
the great and impartial Ruler of the Universe upon our country."
Franklin's last public act was to petition Congress on February 3, 1790, to abolish slavery, urging them to "devise means for removing the inconsistency from the character of the American People" and to "promote mercy and justice toward this distressed race."
So today, in addition to remembering the contributions of the Founders, we honor the extraordinary life, achievements, and sacrifice of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in pursuing and helping fulfill the Declaration of Independence's two-century old recognition that all men were created equal and were equally entitled to an enjoyment of their God-given rights.
God Bless! click to close