Martin Luther King Photos With Essay

On the third Monday of January, the United States will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday marking the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

The idea of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a holiday was promoted by labor unions in contract negotiations. After King’s death, United States Representative John Conyers (a Democrat from Michigan) and United States Senator Edward Brooke (a Republican from Massachusetts) 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. 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). Only two other persons have national holidays in the United States honoring them: George Washington, the first President of the United States, and Christopher Columbus, the navigator, colonizer, and explorer from the Republic of Genoa, whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean led to general European awareness of the American continents. – Wikipedia

Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Things to do in Washington D.C.

On August, 22, 2011, the Martin Luther King Memorial was opened. Located in Washington, D.C., southwest of the National Mall, it’s one of the most dramatic sculptures we have ever seen. It’s a large scale Martin Luther King, Jr. carved out of a rock, representing a piece from King’s famous speech.  If your looking for things to do in Washington D.C., this is a must!

The centerpiece for the memorial is based on a line from King’s “I Have A Dream” speech: “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” A 30 feet (9.1 m)-high relief of King named the “Stone of Hope” stands past two other pieces of granite that symbolize the “mountain of despair.” Visitors literally “pass through” the Mountain of Despair on the way to the Stone of Hope, symbolically “moving through the struggle as Dr. King did during his life.” – Wikipedia

Martin Luther King Memorial Photos

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

A right delayed is a right denied.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.

Aracely paying respects to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in April 1968, LIFE magazine remembered him for his "exalted dream of freedom," one he "died in Memphis for daring to have." The editors' words, wondering aloud how the civil-rights movement would fare in the absence of its most outspoken leader, still resonate today as a new chapter in American race relations continues to unfold:

King was a thoroughly good man who achieved greatness by showing forth the Negro cause at its best. His was the old American cause of equal rights for all men, and King put it in the form in which this generation of Americans must face it. His death may hinder or help that cause; perhaps both. But all of us owe him the honor of not letting ourselves distort, becloud or belittle the cause he brought to such noble purity of expression.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and the anniversary of King's birth on Jan. 15, 1929, here are some of the most powerful images of King made by LIFE's photographers.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

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