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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 14, 1994




On January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr., was born, destined to make our world a greater and more noble one. Growing up in a landscape disfigured with "Colored Only" and "White Only" signs and a society rife with other demeaning racial barriers and distinctions, Martin Luther King, Jr., sadly learned that the Constitution's guarantee of equality was denied to most black Americans. He dedicated his life to ending the injustice of racism, gracing the world with his vision of a land guided by love instead of hatred and by acceptance instead of intolerance.

Three decades ago, Dr. King described his goals most eloquently in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the historic Civil Rights March on Washington. The impassioned plea that rose from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that summer day stirred the entire Nation, awakening people everywhere to turn from the scourge of racism to embrace the promise of opportunity and democracy for all. He prophetically described a future in which our children are judged "not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." His unparalleled commitment to justice and nonviolence challenged us to look deeply within ourselves to find the roots of racism.

Throughout his all too brief life, Martin Luther King, Jr., often confronted powerful and even violent opposition, sacrificing his liberty, his personal safety, and, ultimately, his life for the cause of freedom. Though an assassin's bullet silenced him forever at the young age of 39, Dr. King's words and deeds continue to live on within each of us. We, the inheritors of the fundamental rights he helped to secure, are forever grateful for his legacy.

Today, we live in a nation that is stronger because of Dr. King's work. Unfortunately, there is still much division in this great land. Even though the signs that once segregated our communities have been removed, we are still far from achieving the world for which Dr. King struggled, toiled, and bled. He did not live and die to create a world in which people kill each other with reckless abandon. He did not live and die to see families destroyed, to see communities abandoned, and to see hope disappear. If we are to be faithful to Dr. King's vision, we must each seize responsibility for realizing the goals he worked so tirelessly to fulfill. Dr. King's valiant struggle for true equality will be won, not by the fleeting passion of eloquent words, but by the quiet persistence of individual acts of decency, justice, and human kindness. We must carry the power of his wisdom with us, not only by celebrating his birthday, but also by inscribing its meaning upon our hearts, teaching our children the value and significance of every human being.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Monday, January 17, 1994, as the Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday. I call upon the people of the United States to observe the occasion with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighteenth.


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