The BSU Experience

The MLK Day of Service

The idea of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations.

[1] After King's death, United States Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) introduced a bill in Congress to make King's birthday a national holiday. The bill first came to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1979. However, it fell five votes short of the number needed for passage

[2] Two of the main arguments mentioned by opponents were that a paid holiday for federal employees would be too expensive, and that a holiday to honor a private citizen would be contrary to longstanding tradition (King had never held public office).[2] Soon after, the King Center turned to support from the corporate community and the general public. The success of this strategy was cemented when musician Stevie Wonder released the single "Happy Birthday" to popularize the 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, termed by a 2006 article in The Nation as "the largest petition in favor of an issue in U.S. history."[1]

Quotes from Dr. King

  • The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
  • The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
  • There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.
  • There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.
  • To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow.
  • Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows. We are not makers of history. We are made by history.
  • We have guided missiles and misguided men.
  • We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now.
  • We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.
  • We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.
  • We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.
  • We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. We must use time creatively.
  • We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension.
  • We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.
  • Whatever your life's work is, do it well.
  • A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.
  • When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.