MLK: A life, a lesson, a legacy that changed the nation

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Amaani Lyle
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
On Jan. 21, Air Force District of Washington joins the nation to celebrate and reflect on the legacy of courage, integrity, humility, and service of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., born 90 years ago on Jan. 15, 1929.


In 1964, at 35 years old, the civil rights leader became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Just four years later on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee, King would be assassinated while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

A testament to his resonating impact on the nation, King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

According to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, this year’s poster showcases the sentiment of King’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech: “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”


King is silhouetted in black in the forefront of the poster with his teachings shown in bright colors representing daybreak.


The national recurring theme of this holiday, “Remember! Celebrate! Act! A Day On, Not A Day Off!” calls upon Americans to engage in public service and promote peaceful social change.

King used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly impossible goals, and as such, became the namesake of hundreds of statues, parks, streets, squares, churches and other public facilities around the world.

His teachings are increasingly relevant to the progress of humankind, and he is the only non-president memorialized on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The observance of King’s birthday was established by Public Law 98-144 and is celebrated on the third Monday in January each year.

For more information and artwork related to King’s legacy and life, visit