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Martin Luther King Jr. holiday proclamations

January 17, 2011 |  3:44 am


Half a century ago, America was moved by a young preacher who called a generation to action and forever changed the course of history. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. devoted his life to the struggle for justice and equality, sowing seeds of hope for a day when all people might claim "the riches of freedom and the security of justice."

On Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the holiday recognizing one of America's greatest visionary leaders, and we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King.

Dr. King guided us toward a mountaintop on which all Americans -- regardless of....

... skin color -- could live together in mutual respect and brotherhood. His bold leadership and prophetic eloquence united people of all backgrounds in a noble quest for freedom and basic civil rights.

Inspired by Dr. King's legacy, brave souls have marched fearlessly, organized relentlessly, and devoted their lives to the unending task of perfecting our Union. Their courage and dedication have carried us even closer to the promised land Dr. King envisioned, but we must recognize their achievements as milestones on the long path to true equal opportunity and equal rights.Martin Luther King Jr.

We must face the challenges of today with the same strength, persistence, and determination exhibited by Dr. King, guided by the enduring values of hope and justice embodied by other civil rights leaders. As a country, we must expand access to opportunity and end structural inequalities for all people in employment and economic mobility.

It is our collective responsibility as a great Nation to ensure a strong foundation that supports economic security for all and extends the founding promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to every American.

Dr. King devoted his life to serving others, reminding us that "human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle -- the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." Commemorating Dr. King's life is not only a tribute to his contributions to our Nation and the world, but also a reminder that every day, each of us can play a part in continuing this critical work.

For this reason, we honor Dr. King's legacy with a national day of service. I encourage all Americans to visit www. to learn more about service opportunities across our country. By dedicating this day to service, we move our Nation closer to Dr. King's vision of all Americans living and working together as one beloved community.

NOW, THEREFORE, I BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 17, 2011, as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday. I encourage all Americans to observe this day with appropriate civic, community, and service programs in honor of Dr. King's life and lasting legacy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.


Statement by Sen.  Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, to commemorate the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday

Nearly 48 years ago, I found a spot at the back of the crowd gathered on the Washington Mall and listened to Dr. King proclaim that even the most righteous of fights must be waged in peace:

‘We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline,’ he said. ‘We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.’

Today we honor his nonviolent struggle to end racial prejudice, and we continue to strive to be a nation that recognizes all citizens -- regardless of race -- as equals who deserve the same opportunities to achieve the American dream.   

Statement on the holiday by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan celebrated America’s first observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal holiday -- noting that ‘Dr. King forged a dream out of the values of his religion and the ideals of our nation's founders.’

Dr. King’s dream still inspires us, and his spirit continues to champion freedom and fairness -- and justice for all. We all know that there is still work to be done. We all know that hatred, intolerance and ignorance still breathe in the dark corners of American society.

But Dr. King’s vision of love and non-violence shines a light into those dark corners. Our mission is to join hands and work toward the day when Dr. King's dream comes true -– a dream that echoes his words: ‘All of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning, '... land where my father’s died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

His lessons to us were many, his legacy for the nation, preserved forever. So, with his spirit still guiding us, let us reach out to those who have fallen down, or fallen behind, those who have stumbled.  These are our neighbors, our friends and, in Dr. King’s name, what better day to reach out to those in need, and renew our devotion to the glorious work he left for us to finish. 

Photo: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Credit: Associated Press