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English : World Days Calendar : January

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  1. World War Orphans Day : January 6th
  2. Martin Luther King Day : 3rd Monday of January
  3. International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust : January 27th
  4. Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Gandhi : January 30th

World War Orphans Day : January 6th

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Martin Luther King Day : 3rd Monday of January

Description of the day :

Martin Luther King Day

 The Martin Luther King Day is a national holiday in the United States. It is celebrated each year on the 3rd Monday of January, the date that is nearest to his birthday. Martin Luther King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15th, 1929. He experiences the horror of racial segregation and police brutality from a very young age. Bit by bit, he begins to understand that there were two worlds in the universe that surrounds him: the White world, and the Black ghetto.


At the age of fifteen, after having skipped a grade, he enters Morehouse College the university for Black students. He decides to become a Pastor, like his father and grandfather before him. He has the gift of words: he finishes his studies by winning a public-speaking contest. He becomes a pastor and pursues his studies while helping his father at the Baptist Church. In 1948 he graduates, and leaves Atlanta and begins his “Pilgrimage to Non-violence” in Pennsylvania. He takes further classes in philosophy where he discovers the great thinkers. Among them, Gandhi would have a deep impact on him. King receives a scholarship and decides to enroll in the University of Harvard in philosophy where he would receive his doctorate. It was here that he met a young Black woman, Coretta Scott, who is enrolled in Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. They marry in 1953 in Alabama. Four children were born of this union. In 1953, once his studies are finished Martin accepts the position of Pastor in the South, in Montgomery Alabama, despite Coretta’s reservations.


 In the buses of Montgomery, seats at the front of the bus are reserved for Whites. Blacks are tolerated in the seats at the back of the bus; however, if a White person doesn’t have any place to sit, a Black person has to get up and give their seat to them. On December 1st, 1955, a 50 year- old poor, black dressmaker named Rosa Parks, is arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a White person. Following her arrest, Pastor King organized the Montgomery bus boycott that would last 382 days. He had chosen his destiny. The next year, Martin Luther King survives a bomb attack on his home. In 1956, the Supreme Court condemns bus segregation. King becomes a household name right to the other side of the Atlantic.

In 1957, black leaders in the southern states create an organization: the Southern Christian leadership Conférence (SCLC). King is the president of the SCLC whose mission is to obtain racial equality through non-violent means. That same year, he delivers 208 speeches in defense of civil rights. One year later, he is stabbed by a young black woman who suffers from a mental illness. Soon afterwards, King travels to India to meet President Nehru, a disciple of Gandhi’s. In 1959, two hundred students come together in North Carolina and found the SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee). In 1960, during the electoral campaign between Nixon and Kennedy, Martin Luther King is arrested for the twelfth time since 1956. Kennedy pressures for King’s release and receives 78% of the Black vote. In 1961, Freedom Riders are organized to demonstrate that, despite the laws, segregation still exists in public transit systems in various states. Bombs explode in Alabama and the Martial law is declared.

In 1962, King meets President Kennedy at the White House to convince him to support the Blacks, but without success. On August 28, 1963, King participates in a huge march in the streets of Washington where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. This same year, President Kennedy officially declares his support for the Blacks. Thus, Martin Luther King attains glory. Times magazine declares him Man of the Year; the very first time a black man is named. The next year, in 1964, he receives the Nobel Peace prize, the first time ever that it is awarded to a man of 35 years of age.


Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4th, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. Some time after the assassination of this famous person, M. Harris Wofford, the Senator of Pennsylvania and M. John Lewis, member of the American Congress, lobbied to make this day a national holiday. Despite certain opposition, including that of President Ronald Reagan, the law decreeing Martin Luther King Day was passed by a strong majority of the American Congress. Thus, since 1986, citizens across the United States have been celebrating Martin Luther King’s social action and pacifist struggle each year by organizing demonstrations for peace, social justice, and social and racial equality. Let us remember that in his famous speech, M. L. King included us in his dream, a dream of a society in which Blacks and Whites are united in justice and peace. Thanks to this man’s pacifist leadership, Black people’s rights in America and around the world were greatly improved. Of course, the struggle continues, and this is why we cannot remain silent on the next Martin Luther King Day that takes place on January 21st, 2008.

What you can do :

Action 1

You can join organizations that fight against racism in Quebec. For example:

PROMIS : Promotion, integration, new society.............. Club 2/3 ....................

Or, invite a member of one of these organizations to your school to host a conference on the fight against racism.  

Action 2

You can check out the petitions and campaigns of Development and Peace at the following address

Action 3

Daily, display a non-violent behavior: use a non-violent parlance when communicating to your close ones (friends, family) and avoid verbal and physical confrontations. If you are victim of discrimination or violence, seek out assistance in your community and, if it is possible, report those negative behaviors for everybody’s sake.

« It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom... » Albert Einstein

International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust : January 27th

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Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Gandhi : January 30th

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