The OPSEU Workers of Colour Caucus joins our American sisters and brothers in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. On this day, and in the lead up to Black History Month in February, the Workers of Colour Caucus recommits to continuing the struggle for social justice, and against oppression.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was an important civil rights activist. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States, as well as an outspoken champion of labour rights for all workers. His most famous address was the "I Have A Dream" speech. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.
In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King Jr. died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions led the campaign for the federal holiday. It was endorsed in 1976. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single "Happy Birthday" and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000. In 1990, the Wyoming legislature designated Martin Luther King Jr./Wyoming Equality Day as a legal holiday.