Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday will be observed on January 17. Salt Lake Community College is among those celebrating the occasion with a concert in King’s honor.
This year, Salt Lake Community College and the Cathedral of the Madeleine are presenting a concert in observance of the holiday. The concert will be held on Saturday January 15, the actual birthday of King. Baritone Robert Sims is featured in the tribute concert. Following the concert, the college will announce the recipients of its 2011 “Embracing The Dream Humanitarian Award.” The recipients this year are Reverend Dr. France Davis, Reverend Dr. Leslie Wited, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This annual award recognizes individuals and /or organizations for outstanding service and advocacy toward fulfillment of “The Dream.” The concert is from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.
Murray City also promotes activities for King’s birthday. Every year Murray City residents gather and volunteer their time at the Utah Food Bank. They make food deliveries to shut-ins. There will be a concert in Murray High School’s auditorium the night of January 17. Murray High’s Acapella Choir will be performing this year. Winners of a literary and art contest between students in the Murray School District will be announced.
“The concert is free but donations for the Food Bank are greatly appreciated,” Sheri Van Bibber, Director of Murray City Youth Council said.
Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday is celebrated the third Monday of January. King never held a public office like Lincoln or Washington, which is the long-standing tradition. King’s birthday is celebrated because of the person that he was and what he represented.
Martin Luther King Jr. was the chief spokesman for non-violent activism in the civil rights movement. He successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. He was shot and killed in 1968 while standing on the balcony of his hotel preparing to make a speech.
The idea of King’s birthday being a holiday was promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations. After King’s death, a Democrat from Michigan, United States Representative John Conyers, introduced a Bill in Congress to make King’s birthday a holiday. The bill first came to vote in the House of Representatives in 1979. It fell five votes short of passing.
Former Pennsylvanian Senator Harris Wofford and Atlanta Congressman John Lewis co-authored the King Holiday and Service Act. This federal legislation challenged Americans to transform the King campaign in 1980 and hosted the Rally for Peace Press Conference in 1981. Six million signatures were collected for a petition to Congress to pass the law. In a 2006 article, The Nation said it was the largest petition in favor of an issue in US history.
President Ronald Reagan signed the Bill that made King’s birthday a holiday into law in 1983. It was first observed in 1986. At first, some states resisted observing the holiday. Other names were given for the holiday and it was combined with other holidays. It was officially recognized in all 50 states in 2000.