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Martin Luther King Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King [MLK]. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15th.


We held an assembly which looked at why Martin Luther King could be classed as a "hero" [dictionary definition: a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities"].


We learned about MLK's early life - how there were no white children at Martin’s school; the law in the USA at that time said that children with different skin colours could not go to the same school.


African Americans were often in badly paid work & lived in the poorest areas. In some states in America, African Americans were not allowed to vote. They had use separate sections for public transport (buses & trains), separate sections of parks, restaurants & even separate toilets. Some African Americans adults & children were threatened, beaten up or even killed – others were wrongfully put in prison.


We also learned about another hero of the American Civil Rights Movement: Rosa Parks. In 1955 Rosa was travelling home from work, when all the seats were full a white man got on to the bus & Rosa was meant to stand up & let him have her seat. She didn’t. She was arrested. Martin Luther King heard about this happening in his town & organised a boycott of the buses – lots of people decided that they would not travel on the buses until ban on separate seating was stopped. The protest lasted over a year, but eventually the ban was made illegal.


Martin Luther King led many more protest against inequality in the United States – but he never got angry, all his protests were peaceful, no matter what his opponents did.


In 1963, Martin gave a famous speech in Washington. He talked about his dream. Thousands of people listened to him speak. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.”


Many people listened to him talking and agreed with him. Martin changed many people’s minds and new laws were made that were fairer to black people. In 1964 the US Government passed a law to ensure equal rights for all US citizens and give everybody the chance to vote.


Tragically in 1968, Martin Luther King was shot & killed by someone who didn’t agree with him. When Martin was murdered people all over the world were very sad.


Martin’s work was so important that he is honoured and remembered every year  on this special day.


KS2 also watched this John Legend video 'Glory':

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