Observance Jan 2020

Happy New Year!

This year, Diversity Spotlight will celebrate 14 years of advocating for diversity and inclusion, equality, and social change. So, we are pleased to announce the OBSERVANCE as a complement to DiversitySpotlight.com. We created the Observance as a way to enhance your diversity and inclusion, and equal opportunity programs by honoring the past, identifying the present, and working together for the future of diversity.

In the coming months, we plan to deliver information that will inform, educate, and encourage conversations that benefit your organization. Join us and together we can make a difference.

If you’d like to receive future editions of the Observance, please subscribe here.

MLK Facts

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. Among his many accomplishments Martin Luther King Jr. was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement. http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1964/king-bio.html

Mahatma Gandhi inspired people all over the world, including one of the United States’ most famous civil rights leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr. Though the two men never got a chance to meet (King was 19 when Gandhi was assassinated), King learned about Gandhi through his writings and a trip to India in 1959. King drew heavily on Gandhian principle of nonviolence in his own civil rights activism, writing that “while the Montgomery boycott was going on, India’s Gandhi was the guiding light of our technique of nonviolent social change.” https://www.biography.com/news/martin-luther-king-jr-gandhi-nonviolence-inspiration

It took 15 years to create the federal Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Congressman John Conyers, first introduced legislation for a commemorative holiday four days after King was assassinated in 1968. After the bill became stalled, petitions endorsing the holiday containing six million names were submitted to Congress. Public pressure for the holiday mounted during the 1982 and 1983 Civil Rights marches in Washington. Congress passed the holiday legislation in 1983, which was then signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.


On June 30, 1974, Alberta Williams King – the mother of Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed by Marcus Wayne Chenault as she sat on the organ at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Chenault said that he shot King because “all Christians are my enemies,” and claimed that he had decided that black ministers were a menace to black people. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberta_Williams_King

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.


City of College Park, Tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dance Theatre in The Clarice at the University of Maryland
Date: January 11, 2020
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Location: 8270 Alumni Drive,
College Park, Maryland 20742
This year’s theme: “Is His Dream, your Dream Too?” will be explored through performances, panel discussion and an audience Q&A segment. (Free event) Click here for more information.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Peace Walk and Parade

Date: January 20, 2020

Time: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Location: Start in Anacostia Park on Good Hope Road SE,
Washington, DC.
Click here for more information.

MLK Day 5K Drum Run
January 20, 2020
Time: 9:00 AM Sharp!
Location: Piedmont Park, 500 10th St NE,
Atlanta, Georgia 30309
Gathering the diverse groups in our beloved community to celebrate Martin Luther King Day in the spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood with fellowship and fitness. Click here for more information.

26th Annual MLK Grande Parade-Houston

The Color of Unity
Date: January 20, 2020

Time: 10:00 AM (CST)
Houston, Texas

The annual MLK Grande Parade has 300,000 spectators and a viewing audience of more than 4 million. The parade consists of 15 parade floats and 30 marching bands. Click here for more information or register to participate in the parade.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Celebration
Date: During the month of January
Location: The City of Charlotte, North Carolina
Come out and join the MLK Memorial Service, Parade, MLK Medallion Award Ceremony and much more.
Click here for more information.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Concert Tribute
University of Minnesota Gospel Choir
Date: January 19, 2020
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
Location: Ted Mann Concert Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Click here for more information


Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Christian minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, King is best known for advancing civil rights through nonviolence and civil disobedience, inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi.

King led the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott and in 1957 became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC, he led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia, and helped organize the nonviolent 1963 protests in Birmingham, Alabama. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

On October 14, 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement north to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In his final years, he expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War. He alienated many of his allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”. J. Edgar Hoover considered him a radical and made him an object of the FBI’s COINTELPRO. FBI agents investigated him for possible communist ties and reported back to government officials, and on one occasion mailed King a threatening anonymous letter, which he interpreted as an attempt to make him commit suicide.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated on April 4 in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Allegations that James Earl Ray, the man convicted of killing King, had been framed or acted in concert with government agents persisted for decades after the shooting. Sentenced to 99 years in prison for King’s murder, effectively a life sentence as Ray was 41 at the time of conviction, Ray served 29 years of his sentence and died from hepatitis in 1998 while in prison.

King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a holiday in numerous cities and states beginning in 1971; the holiday was enacted at the federal level by legislation signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Hundreds of streets in the U.S. have been renamed in his honor, and a county in Washington State was rededicated for him. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., was dedicated in 2011.

Martin Luther King Coretta King Final Resting Place

Racially Literate


African American History Month
A Question for Alexa
Interesting Facts
A Music Video Tribute
and much more…


In 1963, Birmingham, Alabama, was perhaps the most racially segregated city in the United States. The campaign launched by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement on the segregated streets of Birmingham demonstrated to the world the power of nonviolent direct action.

In this remarkable book, Dr. King recounts the story of Birmingham in vivid detail, tracing the history of the struggle for civil rights back to its beginnings three centuries ago and looking to the future, assessing the work to be done beyond Birmingham to bring about full equality for African Americans. Above all, Dr. King offers an eloquent and penetrating analysis of the events and pressures that propelled the Civil Rights movement from lunch counter sit-ins and prayer marches to the forefront of American consciousness.

Since its publication in the 1960s, Why We Can’t Wait has become an indisputable classic. Now, more than ever, it is an enduring testament to the wise and courageous vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr


Special observances provide cultural awareness in our place of employment, in our schools, and in our communities. These events create an opportunity to bring people together with the intent to remember history, celebrate contributions, and work towards a future that is inclusive of all people.

Special observances contribute to diversity by serving as a road-map towards a better understanding of our history. Understanding our cultures and where we all come from helps us to form respectful relationships that spark new ideas and innovation.

Click here to learn more about special observances and to download the 2020 Observance calendar.

Witness to MLK Assassination Speaks Out For the First Time